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THE ROLE OF NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION SKILLS IN

CONSECUTIVE INTERPRETING PROCESS

1. Introduction
Interpreting is a process of conversational exchanges between two primary speakers
and through a person called interpreter who has knowledge and understanding of the entire
communicative situation, including fluency in languages, competence in appropriate usage
within each language. In other words, Interpreting is a form of translation in which a first and
final rendition in another language is produced on the basis of a one-time presentation of an
utterance in a source language (Pochhacer, 2004:11). Furthermore, Hatim and Mason (1997:36)
propose three basic forms of interpreting; (1) Simultaneous interpreting is the rendering of one
spoken language into another when running renditions are needed at the same time, (2)
consecutive interpreting; the interpreter waits until the speaker has finished before rendering
speech into another language. (3) Liaison interpreting is a form of consecutive interpreting,
which is to some extent the most personal and informal type of interpreting. It is used
principally for small groups or meetings (e.g. a business meeting between two executives). In
the case of consecutive interpreting tends to focus on information relevance to text structure.
The interpreter must be able to receive and understand the incoming message and then express
its meaning in the target language. In order to accomplish this task, the interpreter must go
through an overlapping series of cognitive processing activities such as attending to the
message, concentrating on the task at hand, remembering the message, comprehending the
meaning of the message, analyzing the message for meaning, visualizing the message
nonverbally, and finally reformulating the message in the target language. Consecutive
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interpreting demands at least the three following skills: listening, note-taking, and/or memory.
Besides those three skills, the non-verbal communication also plays a role in interpreting
process as it has been stated above that before reformulation the message to the audience, the
interpreter visualize the message nonverbally. Good communication is the foundation of
successful relationships, both personally and professionally. But we communicate with much
more than words. In fact, research shows that the majority of our communication is nonverbal.
Nonverbal communication, or body language, includes our facial expressions, gestures, eye
contact, posture, and even the tone of our voice. The ability to understand and use nonverbal
communication is powerful tools that will help you connect with others, express what you
really

mean,

navigate

challenging

situations,

and

build

better

relationships.

(http://helpguide.org/mental/eq6_nonverbal_communication.htm).
This study focuses on the non-verbal communication which is crucial as well in the
process of consecutive interpreting. This research is underpinned by the question; how do the
interpreters transfer the non-verbal elements (facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, posture,
and the tone of our voice.) to the audience?
The source of data of this study is taken from the interpreting video performed by the
students of Translation Studies, academic year 2010, Post Graduate Program in Applied
Linguistics, Udayana University. There are four interpreters and one speaker in the video.

2. Theoretical Framework
2.1. Consecutive Interpreting
Consecutive Interpreting mode is the interpreter speaks after the source-language (SL)
speaker has finished speaking. When the SL speaker pauses or finishes speaking, the interpreter
then

renders

the

entire

message

in

the

target

language

(TL).

(http://www.chamberstranslations.com/interpreting.html). Consecutive interpretation, on the


other hand, is most commonly used in meetings and dialogues, whereby the speaker(s) pauses
between complete thoughts, sentences, or paragraphs for the interpreter to interpret. The speech
is divided into segments of approximately 1 to 3 sentences, and consecutive interpreter sits or
stands beside the source-language speaker, listening and when the speaker pauses or finishes
speaking, the interpreter then delivers the entire message in the target language. Consecutivelyinterpreted speeches, or segments of them, tend to be short. Consecutive interpreting allows for
the source-language message's full meaning to be understood before the interpreter renders it to
the target language. Some characteristics of consecutive interpreting; (1) translation of the
speakers words into other language directly after she/he has spoken, usually sentence by
sentence basis, (2) taking notes; (3) ensuring perfect understanding for all parties, (4) no
equipment needed, (5) often used for single speeches, (6) needing preparation before doing the
interpreting.
2.2. Non-Verbal Communication

According Besson et al (2005), Non-Verbal communication consists of all the messages


other than words that are used in communication. In oral communication, these symbolic
messages are transferred by means of intonation, tone of voice, vocally produced noises, body
posture, facial expression or pauses. When we interact with others, we continuously give and
receive countless wordless signals. All of our nonverbal behaviorsthe gestures we make, the
way we sit, how fast or how loud we talk, how close we stand, how much eye contact we make
send strong messages. Wikipedia (2011) states nonverbal communication is usually
understood as the process of communication through sending and receiving wordless messages
i.e. Language is not the only source of communication, there are other means also.
A. Barbour, author of Louder than Words: Nonverbal Communication states that the
total impact of a message breaks down like this: 7 percent verbal (words), 38 percent vocal
(volume, pitch, rhythm, etc) and 55 percent body movements (mostly facial expressions). This
breakdown

indicates

that

effective

nonverbal

communication

skills

are

essential.

(http://www.minoritycareernet.com/newsltrs/95q3nonver.html)
Non-verbal Communication do not only play an important role in daily communication
but also in process of interpreting. Besson et al (2005) propose that Non-Verbal
Communication ranges from:
1) Intonation
Intonation is the way that the senders pitch of voice rises and falls when speaking. For
example, it shows the interpreter whether the speaker expresses his or her message in the form
of a question or statement. In the first case, the voice rises at the end of the phrase or the

sentence and in the second case, it falls. At the same time, intonation indicates the end of an
entity of information, which in written communication is shown by means of a comma,
semicolon, point, exclamation mark or question mark. Another function of intonation is to lay
emphasis on a particular word or idea, a detail that the interpreter must not fail to be aware of.

2) Tone of voice
The tone of voice is a means by which the speaker implies his or her attitude to the
message. It is also a means by which he seeks a reaction from the hearer. In a political debate,
for instance, the tone of voice is likely to be rousing, whereas on television the daily news is
communicated in a more factual tone. Other examples of tone of voice are: aggressive, critical,
nervous, disappointed, monotonous, friendly, enthusiastic, vivid, persuasive, etc.
3) Vocally produced noises
Spoken discourse can be accompanied by vocally produced noises that are not regarded as
part of language, though they help in communication for the expression of attitude or feeling.
Such non-lexical expressions differ in important respects from language: They are much more
similar in form and meaning, i.e. universal, as a whole in contrast to the great diversity of
language. Vocally produced noises include laughter, shouts, screams of joy, fear, pain, as well
as conventional expressions of disgust, triumph, etc., traditionally spelled ugh!, ha ha!
4) Body posture

Body posture is the bearing or the position of the speakers body. It is a more or less stable
state and thus not to be confused with body gestures which are movements. Body posture can
be characteristic and assumed for a special purpose or it can correspond to the normal
expectations in the context ofn a particular situation. Obviously one can be lying down,
seating, or standing. Normally, these are not the elements of posture that convey messages.
However, when the speaker is slouched or erect, his or her legs crossed or arms folded, such
postures convey a degree of formality or relaxation. Once more, they can also transfer
symbolic messages on the orators attitude or intention with regard to the message.
5) Body gestures
A body gesture is a movement made with a limb, especially the hands, to express, confirm,
emphasize or back up the speakers attitude or intention. This non-verbal activity is regularly
used in oral discourse. If a body act requires no verbal accompaniment, it is called an
emblem. Examples are: hand signals such as waving good-bye, the V for victory sign or
the high five signaling victory. While some emblems, for example a clenched fist, have
universal meaning, there are others that are idiosyncratic or culturally conditioned. The use of
the zero shape made by the fingers, for instance, does not mean the same thing in different
cultures. Standing for OK in the UK, it may be a vulgar expression in South American
cultures, sometimes embarrassingly so Body gestures are always perceived and interpreted
together with facial expressions.
6) Facial expressions and eye movement

Facial expressions are dynamic features which communicate the speakers attitude,
emotions, intentions, and so on. The face is the primary source of emotions. During oral
communication, facial expressions change continually and are constantly monitored and
interpreted by the receiver. Examples are: a smile, frown, raised eyebrow, yawn or sneer.
Eye movement is a key part of facial behavior because the eyes are invariably involved in
facial displays. The different forms are observed to be cross-cultural. The frequency of eye
contact may suggest either interest or boredom or may even betray dishonesty. The direct stare
of the speaker can show candor or openness. Downward glances are generally associated with
modesty; eyes rolled upwards are conveyed as a sign of fatigue. Researchers have discovered
that certain facial areas reveal our emotional state better than others. For example the eyes tend
to show happiness, sadness or even surprise. The lower face can also express happiness or
surprise; a smile, for instance, can communicate friendliness or cooperation. As for the lower
face, brows and forehead are known to reveal mostly anger
7) Pause
A pause can have two different functions:
a. It can be a brief suspension of the voice to indicate the limits and relations of
sentences and their parts. A pause then assumes a similar function in oral discourse to
intonation
b.

It can consist of a temporary vocal inaction revealing the speakers uncertainty,


hesitation, tension or uneasiness. In this context, a pause can also be judgmental by
indicating favor or disfavor, agreement or disagreement. Consequently, the non-verbal
7

cue of a pause can give rise to problems when interpreting it because its meaning can
vary considerably. It can have a positive or negative influence on the process of
communication.

3. Non-Verbal Elements Conducted by the Interpreters in Consecutive Interpreting to


the Audience
The analysis of the data is based on the theory stated by Besson et al in 2005 which
explained previously (see section 2.2.). The data is taken from the interpreting video conducted
by a speaker is a Native Balinese and the four interpreters (Ida Ayu Purnamasari, Made
Kastawa, Made Arya Astina , IGA Maytrea Adi Santa,) are from the translation students,
academic year 2010 of Udayana University. The topic of their discussion is about Balinese
culture. The Speaker gives a speech in Balinese Language about Balinese traditional Custom,
while the interpreters render the speech into English. By watching the video of the consecutive
interpreting process, the non-verbal elements are observed; body gesture, facial expressions
and eye movement, pause as well.
3.1. Body Gesture
First Interpreter
She nods her head several times to the audience. This might be a sign that she reinforces
the positive message that what she has just interpreted is about the good thing.
Second Interpreter
8

The second interpreter shakes his head to audience when he interprets the speech. This
is to express his attitude that he needs the audiences intention.
Third Interpreter and Fourth Interpreter
The third interpreter and the fourth interpreter do not shake or nod their heads to the
audience. They interpret calmly.
3.2.

Facial expressions and Eye Movement


First Interpreter
She always looks at the speaker while listening to the speech and waiting when it is

stopped. She sometimes laughs to the audience. In Indonesian such in formal situation, it is not
allowed that interpreter laughs while speaker giving speech seriously and does not laugh at all.
It will make the speaker offended and consider that the interpreter does not respect or
appreciate the source speaker. She sometimes smiles to the audience.
Second Interpreter
He looks stiff. A lively and animated interpreting style captures audiences' attention and
makes the speech is more interesting to be heard. He also does not make eye contact open to
the audience. He interprets like speaking with himself without looking at the audience. Eye
contact helps regulate the flow of communication. And it signals interest in others.
Furthermore, eye contact with audiences increases the interpreters credibility. If the
interpreters who make eye contact open the flow of communication and convey interest,
concern, warmth and credibility.
Third Interpreter
The third interpreter looks hesitated in delivering the message from the speaker, He
does not look at audience when he interprets. He seems to the audience reading a text for
himself. This situation can make the audience feel bored and is not interested in the speech.
Fourth Interpreter
The fourth interpreter does the same as what have been done by the second, and the
third interpreter. He once looks at the audience and then read a text when he interprets as if he
9

is not ready at all. As an interpreter we should be ready psychologically. His eyes keep on
looking at the text while interpreting the speech to the audience in English. He should just look
at the audience while interpreting the speech.
3.3. Vocally produced Noise
First interpreter
The first interpreter does a good job, she does not make use of vocally produced noise
such as eh, and she delivers the speech fluently.
Second Interpreter
The second interpreter often use of vocally produced noises such as eh. He is not sure
and may forget to what should be interpreted to the audience, so that he makes some noises
eh for a few second. We should keep in mind that the use of such noise is not, actually,
allowed in all languages.
Third Interpreter
He does not make often use of vocally produced noises when interpreting the speech to
the audience. That is very good.
Fourth Interpreter
The fourth interpreter interprets the speech to the audience without making any vocally
produced noise at all. He looks ready to the interpretation of the speech.
3.4. Pause
First Interpreter
She delivers the message in a normal pause, she does it fluently.
Second Interpreter
The pause done by the second interpreter is too long. He tries to gather his thoughts in
order to provide better and fluent communication. However, it is too long. It makes the
audience impatient and they would lose confidence in his since he looks such as unprofessional
interpreter.
Third Interpreter
The third interpreter delivers the message without long pauses
Fourth Interpreter
10

The first interpreter does not really make often use of vocally produced noises. He
delivers the message well.
4. Conclusion
The non-verbal communication does not only play an important role in daily
conversation but also in interpreting process. By analyzing nonverbal attitude performed by the
interpreters, it can be concluded that the first and the second interpreters have the positive body
gesture while the third and fourth interpreters do not support their interpretation by nodding
their heads. Furthermore, the first interpreter has good facial expression, such as smile, as well
as good eye contact to the speaker and audience while the second, the third and the fourth
interpreters look tense and do not show a good eye contact to the speaker and audience. The
first, the third and the fourth interpreter do not make often noises such as eh. While the
second interpreter most frequently make some noises eh. Finally, the second interpreter
makes too long pauses that this situation might make the audience annoyed and bored. The
first, the third and the fourth interpreter also make pauses but not too long.
In the consecutive interpreting, the interpreter should transfer his//her body gesture,
keep eye contact and good facial expression to the audience. Besides, the interpreter also
should not make vocally produced noise and long pauses when interpreting Source language
into target language.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Besson, Chantal et al. 2005. The Importance of Nonverbal Communication in Professional
Interpretation. Available at URL: http://aiic.net/ViewPage.cfm/page1662.htm

Pochhacker, Franz. 2004. Introducing Interpreting Studies. New York: Routledge


11

Hatim, Basil and Mason, Ian. 1997. The translator as Communicator. London and New York:
Routledge.
Wikipedia. 2011 Language Interpretation. (June 2011). Available at URL:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_interpretation
Source from the internet:
(http://helpguide.org/mental/eq6_nonverbal_communication.htm).
(http://www.chamberstranslations.com/interpreting.html)
(http://www.minoritycareernet.com/newsltrs/95q3nonver.html)

Table of Contents
1. Introduction

2. Theoretical
Framework..3
2.1.

Consecutive

Interpreting..3
2.2.
Nonverbal Communication 3
Intonation

4
12

Tone of voice

Vocally produced noise


Body posture

Body gestures

Facial expression and eye movement


Pause

3. Non-Verbal Elements Conducted by the Interpreters in Consecutive Interpreting to the


Audience
.8
3.1. Body Gesture

3.2. Facial expressions and Eye Movement..9


3.3. Vocally produced Noise10
3.4. Pause10
4. Conclusion

15

5. Bibliography 17
Appendix

13