Bulletin n° 15 - mars 2017


Critical Discourse Analysis as an Innovative Approach in Teaching Conference Interpreting

Alicja Okoniewska


This paper discusses different uses of the Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) approach in interpreter training at two different levels. First, at the initial stage of student interpreter training in simultaneous interpreting. Second, with professional interpreters during thematic trainings organized in order to refresh their knowledge of a source langue. The teaching methodology is based on the use of discourse categories as defined by Van Dijk[1]. The analysis encompasses selected exercises from two academic semesters of 2015, in the case of students, and two intensive thematic courses conducted in 2016, in the case of experienced interpreters. It describes teaching practices used with students at the Institute of Intercultural Management and Communication (ISIT) in Paris and with professional conference interpreters during thematic trainings in the framework of CIMAD project in Madrid.

In what form should CDA be included in interpreter training? In what ways should the method based on selected discourse categories be adapted as a teaching, in-class practice so that it proves useful and efficient, starting form the early stages of interpreting studies? How could discourse analysis be useful in training of conference interpreting with one source and many target languages? How can CDA-based methodology help in improving interpreting techniques for fully-fledged interpreters? What would be the differences between CDA-based exercises for student interpreters and professionals?

This paper starts the debate on the afore-mentioned questions. Furthermore, it takes under the consideration that even if an initial interpreter training is organized in language-focused pairs or sections, further, advanced-level training practices are mostly organized within multilingual and multicultural subject-related practices and training sessions. This seems to add to the complexity of adapting the CDA or any other transversal method for teaching purposes. Thus, the proposed approach is only an initial approximation that will be further developed in future.


Critical Discourse Analysis, conference interpreting, political debate


Apart from traditionally developed training elements such as memorisation or note-taking exercises in consecutive interpreting practice, or dummy both exercises in simultaneous interpreting training, there are plenty of innovative exercises and approaches sprouting in school practice. These innovative teaching ideas are often loosely applied set of exercises rather than a consciously followed, structured teaching methods. Many of these exercises are rooted more in public speaking, ethics, marketing, psycholinguistics or discourse analysis than in conference interpreting as such. Consequently, they are neither performed in the booth for simultaneous practice, nor using pen and a notebook in case of consecutive interpreting. These innovative approaches are often combined or sometimes inherently connected with the development of new technologies as in the case of virtual interpreter training. Therefore, there is an increasing number of interdisciplinary elements that are being integrated in the training curriculum. Undoubtedly, the processes itself reflects a changing nature of the profession. Interpreting services are more frequently perceived as an element of an array of products not as an art per se. This is why the marketing of these services; its placement and integrated use of new technologies is of crucial importance. While the interpreting reaches towards many different disciplines in the professional practice, in this paper I would like to show that these disciplines can feed the interpreter training from the early beginning. Even if the strategies borrowed from marketing of the use of new technologies is extremely important and should be further studied, I will focus here on discourse analysis and its potential use for interpreter training. In particular, this paper will suggest a way of using Critical Discourse Analysis in class and outline some of its possible implications.

The starting point of applying the Critical Discourse Analysis to interpreter training is the belief that the changing profession of conference interpreter moves towards intercultural communication that is not only multilingual but also embraces continuously widening scope of new contexts and gendres. The approach of Critical Discourse Analysis allows to provide trainers with tools that could serve to identify and describe the ways of interpreting of different mental models, deepen the comprehension of the context and meaning of the source language and facilitate interpreting into the target language and context.

This paper studies the use of the Critical Discourse Analysis approach in interpreter training at two different levels: in the early stage of training, when simultaneous interpreting technique is explained and gradually introduced through different exercises; and during thematic training for experienced interpreters. The first group that participated in the CDA-based exercises were Polish section students beginning their second year of interpreting studies at the Institute of Intercultural Management and Communication (ISIT). That is the moment when the students start learning simultaneous interpreting technique after a year of learning and practicing consecutive interpreting. The students that participated in the CDA exercises were trained to interpret from Spanish into Polish and also from French, English into Polish and from Polish into French. The CDA-based training exercises are introduced during Spanish into Polish and English into Polish interpreting classes. The example of CDA-based exercise, described below, was used during Spanish into Polish interpreting class. The same speech was analysed with professional interpreters during thematic training in Madrid. In that way, the performance of students and the pedagogical potential of the exercise could be compared with the exercise outcomes for the experienced interpreters. The group of professional interpreters was confronted with the exercise during intensive thematic course in Spanish Politics in Madrid. The training group in Madrid was composed by conference interpreters with three to twenty years of interpreting practice. Some of them live in Brussels and work as accredited interpreters for the EU institutions other live in different European Member States. They all provide simultaneous interpreting from Spanish into their target languages in their every-day, professional practice. Languages that they work into include: German, Romanian, Bulgarian, Latvian, English, French, Italian, Dutch and Russian.

The speech used for CDA-based exercise; discourse analysis for interpreting purposes, was originally delivered by a Spanish MEP, Pablo Iglesias during a parliamentary debate about immigration at the European Parliament plenary session which took place on the 6th of October 2015 in Strasburg.


The methodology of the exercise of discourse analysis for interpreting purposes is based on the Critical Analysis of Discourse approach proposed by Teun A. Van Dijk. This analytic approach allows to identify different discourse strategies as described in the article Politics, Ideology and discourse[2]. The list of discursive strategies formulated for the pedagogical purposes is open-ended and the boundaries between different categories are often blurred. Still, such a toolbox provided us with a clear frame of reference that was user-friendly, thus easy to be employed as a pedagogical tool. An initially established list of discursive categories, gradually evolved into semi-opened register of discursive strategies fed by in-class practice and included: authority, categorization, comparison, consensus, disclaimers, evidentiality, generalization, hyperbole, implication, irony, lexicalization, metaphor, national self-glorification, polarization, us– them categorization, populism, presupposition, vagueness and victimization. Some of the categories proved to be easily recognisable (such as a metaphor) or frequent and formed the core of the register. On the contrary, others seemed to generate more analytic problems for students as their borderlines were blurred, they combined different strategies or smoothly transferred one into another (for example, glorification). The CDA-based exercise of discourse analysis for interpreting purposes involved around twenty, including above-mentioned, discourse strategies. However, considering limited space available this paper will focus on the strategies identified and analysed as crucial in the described exercise. In order to show the methodology of CDA-based discourse analysis exercise in class, the same political speech is used in both cases. The analysis conducted with two different groups: student and professional interpreters is presented as a result of the exercise. The role of improving participants’ comprehension of meaning and context is also initially discussed. Still, it is important to remember that the teaching method is not developed yet and cannot be on the basis on a given example. It must be created during a teaching practice and involve introducing different variants of the exercises with different focus groups and languages.

The CDA-based exercise of discourse analysis introduced at the early stage of simultaneous training focus on identifying and describing different discourse categories. This was the initial aim for second year students. The next stage is to practice recognising these categories in interpreted speeches in order to know how to deal with them. In the beginning the students listen to the speech directly or after a first attempt of interpreting it in the booth. The discursive strategies identified are discussed in group. Later, when the students fully dominate the skill of recognising different strategies, the identification of discourse categories is done during simultaneous interpreting in the booth. The categories are written down and then discussed. The aim of this exercise is to discuss with students different mental models[3] which they are thought to recognise. It serves to search for strategies to deal with different mental models in interpreting. These strategies, more so if they can be common for different languages, are useful while interpreting simultaneously from a source language into a target language and even from different source languages into one target language. Quick identification of discourse strategies in the source langue is a crosscutting tool that helps the interpreters not only to better understand and precisely convey the message, but also to correctly anticipate the appearance, implication or reference to mental models in the following part of the speech. Obviously, the usage of the specific discourse strategies, that reflect source language mental models, will not be mutually corresponding in many interpreted languages. Additionally, in each language, the mental models depend on the speaker’s way of thinking, argumentative style, his/her ideology, education and many other contextual characteristics that should be taken under the consideration.

Therefore, the interpreter must have an adequate linguistic, cultural and contextual knowledge in order to be able to identify discourse strategies used. Widely understood contextual knowledge includes cultural, political, personal and even historical factors and also the nature of the interaction itself, conducted in a specific place (historical) time, (political) situation. The multilayer context is an environment that serves as a “background” or a “frame” of a discursive situation[4]. In case of the European Parliament, such contextual analysis is more complex than at the national or bilateral level. The speakers come from 28 different countries. They feed their discourses from national, cultural and personal contexts and use discursive strategies typical for their mother tongue and their linguistic vision of the world. The contextual elements affect the speaker´s discursive production but also decoding, processing and conveying of the message in a different target language by an interpreter. Therefore, contextual information is essential for the correct discourse analysis of an EU political speech, and for its interpreting into another language and linguistic reality.

The experienced interpreters are generally fluent in such analysis. They easily and swiftly identify most of discourse strategies used by the speaker. However, this skill is mostly acquired unconsciously during interpreter training or already during professional practice. Therefore, a conscious practice of discourse analysis could cater for developing interpreting skills in a more structured, conscious and interiorised way, allowing for more flexibility and control while interpreting and reducing, in the same time, work-related stress level. Also, and what is more important for this target group, the experienced interpreters, through adequately conducted discourse analysis, improve their comprehension and knowledge of the linguistic vision of the world of the speaker. The interpreters that took part in thematic training courses in Madrid focused on newly emerged Spanish political parties and their discourse. Through the analysis of discourse strategies they could better understand the emerging, linguistic vision of the world of new Spanish political leaders in the unknown multipartite context. They could also compare it with their source language perspective. That is why CDA-based discourse analysis exercise is of interest even for experienced interpreters.

Let’s briefly describe first these three discourse categories that were crucial for the speech of Pablo Iglesias that I analysed with students and professional interpreters. Such a description or explanation must be provided at the first stage so that the participants have adequate tools of analysis. The three discursive categories that will be further analysed include: metaphor, irony and disclaimer. Needless to repeat, they are only a few of a vast realm of intricately interconnected discursive strategies included in the above-mentioned list or prone to be identified in indifferent languages in further studies.


The first discursive category that is identified and analysed in a selected speech (see below for transcription) is a metaphor. Described as one of the most ubiquitous[5] and persuasive[6] semantic-rhetorical figures, metaphor is omnipresent in the political debate. This discursive category is used as a strategy to explain abstract, complex or unknown meanings in an accessible, simple and tangible form. Its selection and use depend on the linguistic vision of the world of the speaker, as some metaphors functional in one language could be useless or unclear in another.

The interpreter can convey a meaning of a source language through the same or different metaphorical constructs in the target language. They can also describe the meaning of the metaphor in a target language without using any metaphors. Thus, the interpreter must identify the metaphor in the context so that they can choose the interpreting technique that will convey its meaning.


Irony is a strategy used frequently to negatively describe and criticise others in the political context. It is often constructed through contrasting, exaggerated or opposite meanings to prove the fallacy of a given thinking. It can be unapparent in the beginning as it builds up on shades of meaning. As Van Dijk suggests: Accusations may come across as more effective when they are not made point blank (which may violate face constraints), but in apparently lighter forms of irony[7].

Therefore, identifying the irony on time requires from a simultaneous interpreter a thorough knowledge of the linguistic vision of the world of the speaker. A failure to identify and interpret adequately the irony may have disastrous consequences for the political debate as the message which is contrary to speaker´s wish could be conveyed.


Disclaimer is also based on a polarised approach. It serves to introduce a relevant information through an evidently bogus statement or declaration. For example, an introductory statement such as I will not mention that… serves the opposite goal than the one expressed. It serves to mention a negatively valued characteristics or information. Disclaimer also serves to underline the message conveyed by the speaker introduced be a bogus statement, which is frequently a negative description of an opponent.

A Disclaimer can reveal the unknown facts or interests of a given group which are presented as revelatory, scandalous or even shocking manner. That is why this strategy is used to dismiss and degrade the opposition. These introductory expressions should put the interpreter on alert as the meaning of the information that follows is crucial for the speaker and should be adequately interpreted so that the persuasive power of this discursive category is maintained.


The CDA-based exercise consists of analysis of previously identified discourse strategies. This paper focuses on three above-mentioned discursive categories; metaphor, irony and disclaimer identified by students and interpreters in the speech by Pablo Iglesias quoted below. The identification, recognition and analyse of these categories contribute to answering a question about how the CDA approach can be integrated in the pedagogical methodology of interpreter training in future.

The leader of Podemos, one of the new political Spanish parties, Pablo Iglesias, was elected to the European Parliament in 2014 and served until 2015 when he left the institution in order to participate in Spanish general ballot in 2015. Pablo Iglesias participated actively in the debate on immigration during the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasburg, on the 6th of October. The debate took place during the first stages of the immigration crisis in 2015. In his speech Pablo Iglesias said[8]:

Se me revuelve el estómago al escuchar algunas afirmaciones en esta Cámara. Que se hable de plaga[9], que se hable de invasión, que se mezclen inmigración y terrorismo, o inmigración y seguridad, me parece que es una ofensa a esta Cámara y a la democracia. Quien habla así de seres humanos, solamente merece una calificación, y aunque sea una palabra fuerte, lo voy a decir: son ustedes basura, los que se refieren así a los seres humanos que huyen de la miseria y de la guerra.
Por otra parte, creo que la respuesta a esos planteamientos propios de la basura es ligeramente hipócrita. Nadie dice aquí que la política exterior europea en los últimos quince años ha contribuido a echar gasolina sobre los conflictos. Nadie dice aquí que Europa se ha gastado más dinero en elevar muros que en ayudar los refugiados. Nadie dice aquí que precisamente la abolición del Protocolo de Dublín – si los refugiados pudieran pedir asilo en los países de tránsito, lo que en este momento no pueden pedir- habría impedido que viéramos imágenes como la de un niño muerto en la playa.
Creo que frente a la basura hace falta algo menos de hipocresía.

The analysis of discourse strategies identified in Iglesias’ speech provided below these lines showcases an in-class practice conducted in the advanced stage of simultaneous practice with students (due to the complexity of the material) and with professional interpreters during thematic training in Madrid. It is also an attempt to answer the following questions. First, in what form should CDA be included in teaching interpreting? In what ways should the method based on selected discourse categories be adapted as a teaching, in-class practice so that it proves useful and efficient starting form the early stages of interpreting studies? Second, how could a discursive analysis be useful in training with many target languages? How can CDA-based methodology help in improving interpreting techniques for fully-fledged interpreters? Finally, what would be the differences between CDA-based exercises for student interpreters and professionals? Below I try to give some preliminary answers.


Iglesias starts his speech with a metaphor. In the first utterance, he describes his discomfort and agitation - a stomach-ache - (Esp. se me revuelve el estomago) provoked by the terms used by his political opponents to describe immigrants. He quotes the metaphors used: plaga (Eng. plague) and invasión (Eng. invasion) that are negative. He denounces these two classifications as racist describing the stomach pain they cause. In this way, he indicates that he reads a plague negatively, as an insect infestation that destroys everything on the way. Later he explains that his political opponents mistake the concepts of immigration and terrorism (Esp. inmigración y terrorismo). This is a reference to a mental model of an immigrants as an terrorists that come to Europe to destroy it. The invasion (Esp. invasión) is a negative, military act of breaking into someone´s territory. Pablo Iglesias makes a reference to a mental model that classifies immigrants as a threat for European security. He explains that his political opponents erroneously link two ideas: the arrival of the immigrants and a breach of European security (Esp. inmigración y seguridad). The metaphor is reinforced by its repetition and the aforementioned specification. Iglesias clearly condemns negative, metaphorical labelling of human beings, in this case, immigrants. That is how he voices his opposition to the ideology of those who use quoted metaphors. Finally, Iglesias himself uses a metaphor again to discredit perceiving the immigrants as terrorists threatening European security. He calls the people (here, his political opponents) rubbish (Esp. Son ustedes basura […]), which is a strong insult in Spanish, especially in a institutional context of the European Parliament. It is another way of denouncing the parliamentary opposition present in the room because of offensive practise of labelling the arrival of immigrants in Europe as a plague and/or invasion. What is more, Iglesias feels personally offended – and almost affected physically with a stomach-ache – by witnessing the racist description of immigrants. In conclusion, he brings the racist labelling to the systemic level as he perceives it harmful for democracy in general. This reference to the essential values of the European Union makes his statement even stronger. The offensive metaphor (rubbish) is used as a counterattack to defend immigrants. It is a polarisation that once again clearly describes Iglesias´ position.

In this case, even for a student interpreter, the message is clear, explained and repeated by the speaker. An indignation and a fierce opposition towards a negative and racist depiction of immigration is obvious[10]. Interpreting such transparent, easy to grasp, double-negative critiques can be a useful in-class exercise during initial interpreter training. The students can easily identify a metaphor, understand the message and focus on other aspects of the speech such as vocabulary, linking words, structure, register etc. It will also be easier to focus on the production – the message in the target language – and control the register, vocabulary, tone of voice, pauses etc.  

However, the discourse category of metaphor is not always as easy to introduce in interpreting training because it is very varied. There is an array of metaphors which cannot be directly interpreted into a target language. The metaphors are commonly used in a political debate and reflect directly or indirectly different aspects of a vision of the world in a source language. Therefore, the interpreting of metaphors requires an extensive general knowledge in a C language. Moreover, metaphors are everywhere says Lakoff[11]. Therefore, it goes without saying that they are a crucial element in interpreter training, both at the initial stage and in latter thematic training of experienced professionals. The metaphors that do not cause neither linguistic nor contextual problems are a good starting point for a gradual introduction to this discursive category and in-class exercises of identification and analysis. Additionally, such exercises contribute to a considerable improvement of linguistic skills in a C language. A mere identification and categorisation of reality through metaphors that reflect a different vision of the world, conducted through critical analysis proves extremely enriching linguistically. As the students must cater for such parallel linguistic progress, CDA-based in-class practices prove very helpful and instructive. This is true not only for junior interpreters but also for experienced ones adding or polishing a language.

Consequently, building up a class structure around discourse categories proves fruitful in case of thematic training for experienced professionals. For example, Iglesias´ speech is a starting point for metaphor-based, political vocabulary building conducted during a terminology session. Further exercises can include collecting unknown or peculiar expressions, describing their discursive category(/ies) and discussing the reference mental models and their equivalence in the target languages. The exact meaning of the terms at the advanced level is in most cases clear. However, the mental models used in a specific ideology in a source language can be challenging. Plague, invasion, and rubbish serve as a starting point to describe the argumentative style of Iglesias, and that of Podemos, as a new political party, in general. They serve as an example of a strongly polarised denouncing style and a key that opens the door to the argumentative style of “new” Spanish politics. The above-mentioned exercises can be combined with many other terminology in-class practices aiming to get acquainted with the discourse but also with the ideology of Podemos and other parties. They enable the interpreters to anticipate Podemos rhetoric in other cases and better convey the message in the target language. Finally, what proves extremely effective, and is confirmed by the experienced interpreters participating in the thematic course, is complementing discursive exploration with a political background explanation, in this case, political situation in Spain.


In the second part of his speech, Iglesias uses a discursive category of Irony. This strategy is more difficult to identify and often can be recognized only when possessing a profound linguistic and cultural knowledge. In the analysed text, Iglesias describes his political opponents as slightly hypocritical. He explains his critical approach in the following sentence, stating that those responsible for the current emergency situation are these politicians who now have a racist approach towards immigrants. Iglesias describes the errors that Europe has committed in the past. He talks about building more walls to keep away the migrants than bridges that would offer assistance to refugees. He states that the external relations of the EU generated many of socio-political conflicts. Iglesias claims that this is why people are forced now to leave their homes. He condemns the Protocol of Dublin as a set of rules that unable migrants to apply for asylum in transit countries. He holds the authors of this measure directly responsible for people dying on the way to Europe. To reinforce his argumentation, he mentions a shocking photograph of a dead refugee boy laying on the beach (Esp. (…) la foto del niño muerto en la playa). The allusion to this widely circulated photo emphasizes the argument of hypocrisy of his political opponents, that according to Iglesias, took erroneous legislative decisions. Summing up, the analysis clearly shows that the initially employed adjective slightly is ironic as the speaker states the contrary. Therefore, the interpreter deduces that according to Iglesias, the hypocrisy of his political opponents is enormous.

For interpreter students, the main difficulty of this discursive category, when used in political debate, is its identification. It is challenging because frequently it is necessary to wait few utterances more to confirm the usage of the irony by the speaker. For example, in the analysed speech it takes three long sentences until an interpreter can be sure that the previously used adjective slightly actually means enormously. As the time-management is one of the most important skills for interpreters, it requires practicing. The irony proves to be an excellent discourse category to exercise. Initially, an interpreting student does not have the skill to wait for the following sentences as he or she can forget the message previously developed in the source language or can loose control over their performance in the target language. In case of irony, the interpreter needs the confirmation of adequately detected discourse category. Therefore, using easy cases of irony at an early stage of interpreter training develops alertness and anticipation. These skills are crucial in later professional life.

Experienced interpreters, highly trained in the skill of anticipation, still appreciated thematic exercises organised around the discourse category of irony. It is used in a variety of different contexts depending on a source language. Moreover, using irony as a discourse strategy is a persistent element of political agenda. Still, its context of use and lexical form change in time. For example, while analysing the political discourse of Podemos as an emerging new political power, we can see a repetitive use of irony employed to criticize so-called old politics. Therefore, identifying discourse categories that compose the ideological palette of Podemos improves anticipation but also provides a bigger picture of development of political system in Spain. Therefore, generally, even at the later stages of training, CDA-based exercises rooted in such non-neutral discourse categories prove effective.


The last discourse category analysed here as an example of an exercise for interpreters is a disclaimer. Pablo Iglesias uses disclaimers repetitively in the second part of analysed speech. He aims to underline the urgency of the situation and, again, a high level of hypocrisy amongst the politicians that label refugees plague or invasion. He claims that he says what nobody dares to mention. He introduces his statement with a disclaimer: nobody mentions. Iglesias discloses a hidden truth aimed to demonstrate the fault of hypocrisy even wider. In the same time, the speaker indirectly auto-describes himself as the only just and sincere person among the Members of the Parliament because he does not hesitate to condemn the racism of others. The introduction nobody mentions announces a disclosure of an unknown information. It can include specific data: examples, numbers, names etc.

That kind of introductory expressions are an important hint for interpreters. They facilitate the identification of discussed discourse category. Preparing a list of such expressions with interpreting students can be a valuable preparatory exercise. It could be suitable not only to identify disclaimers in other speeches, but also it can be useful for their future interpreting practice. Additionally, a comparative analysis between such lists in source languages could be interesting and beneficial from pedagogical perspective.

Furthermore, it is essential that student become aware of and understand the inherent polarisation of disclaimers. The opposition between what is announced to be said and what is really said is an underlying mechanism of disclaimers. Recognising this polarisation allows students to identify disclaimers from the early stages of their training. It is important from a sematic point of view, because the meaning and the powerful persuasion strategy must be conveyed in the target language. On the other hand, it is essential from the point of view of interpreting technique development, as disclaimers often introduce specific data in a dense form. Especially, at the beginning of the training data can cause difficulties if enumerated quickly. Finally, practicing disclaimer identification through discourse analysis exercises improves alertness which is vital in the professional life of interpreters.

Experienced, consciously vigilant interpreters can benefit from the exercised designed around the category of disclaimer to identify permissiveness, frequency and consequences of their use. Moreover, disclaimers can be perceived as an essential element of a linguistic vision of the world. Understanding them facilitates a thorough comprehension of such vision. It is especially effective, if the strategy of disclaimer is rare in the interpreter´s target language. Again, discourse category-centred exercised in the framework of the thematic training in Spanish politics proves beneficial in improving comprehension of specific expressions, overall message and ideology. It facilitates the anticipation of Podemos ideology, in particular, but also provides clear and contextualised examples of Spanish and European political mental models in general.

General Conclusions

In the analysis of Pablo Iglesias´ discourse we outlined three discursive categories and discussed some varieties of CDA-based discourse analysis exercises for interpreting purposes. The potential of such training was studied for both; student interpreters attending regular classes of simultaneous interpreting and professional interpreters participating in thematic training in Spanish politics in Madrid once a year. During the early stages of interpreter training students are organised into linguistic sections. It means that students learn simultaneous interpreting technique from a C language (passive) into an A language (active), for example. Here, Spanish into Polish interpreting class was considered. At later stages, when the training participants are professional interpreters and possess a fully-developed interpreting technique, teaching can be organised in multilingual thematic sessions. It means that the participants of such a training in their professional life would all interpret from Spanish but into an array of different target languages, mainly their mother tongues. In both cases: during interpreting classes at the Institute of Intercultural Management and Communication with the second-year students of Polish language section and during the intensive five-day CIMAD thematic trainings in Spanish Politics and Society with international professional interpreters, CDA-based discourse analysis exercises proved efficient as a teaching method. They were aimed at identifying, describing and learning the meaning of a variety of discourse strategies used in a source language. An example of such discourse analysis presented above revealed, for example, that the discourse categories of metaphor, irony and disclaimer should be differently adapted to be employed at different stages and with a different level of difficulty in exercises during interpreter training. Specific conclusions were presented above. What is a pedagogical potential of CDA-based exercises in the interpreter training in general?

Due to their ubiquity, the metaphors constitute a logical start of interpreter training. However, the choice of metaphors – or speeches including them – must be done carefully considering the difficulty in the meaning transfer from source into a target language. Some metaphors can be directly interpreted. In some other cases semantically close equivalents can be used in a target language. Finally, there are also the cases in which metaphors must be explained in a non-metaphorical target language of an interpreter. Independently of interpreting technique applied, the metaphors used for in-class exercises at the early stages of training must be easy to understand, so that these three strategies could be introduced. That means that the students should possess a sufficient linguistic and contextual knowledge and the metaphors in a given speech must be common and easily to detect. Less frequent and more intricate metaphors could be used in thematic trainings for professional interpreters at the later stage. Finally, a set of speeches abundant in metaphors of national reference together with an informative introduction to the subject are an excellent basis for a well-structured and challenging exercise as a part of thematic training session.

Irony is more difficult to introduce in thematic courses, as it is less frequently used in political debate. Still, there are some speakers that could provide large quantity of study material but it will be difficult to reach a thematically structured group of ironic speakers. However, irony is an adequate discursive strategy that can be used to show cultural differences between source and target languages. It has also a high discursive power as it strengthens the stance of the speaker. We should not forget that discourse strategies are used in a net, they are intricately linked to each other and interdependent, thus, if adequately used they mutually strengthen each other. CDA-based in-class exercises involving ironic parts of speeches naturally show this trend. On the other hand, irony could be difficult to identify and understand for student interpreters. It requires extensive linguistic and contextual knowledge which is often still being developed at that stage. Therefore, such in-class discourse analysis exercise should be done carefully and well explained. The identification of irony is crucial in a professional life of an interpreter but too much of ironic texts in the beginning of the interpreter training could lead to confusion, doubts about one’s own linguistic and cultural knowledge and memory capacities resulting in student´s disenchantment and demotivation.

Finally, a disclaimer is a discourse strategy used fairly often in the political debate. It offers a method to learn vigilance and anticipation. The list of introductory expressions, as mentioned before, is a outcome of the exercise that can also be used for source language improvement. Such a a list fulfils at least two functions: it describes the linguistic vision of the world of a speaker and it constitutes a list of practical warnings. This last function is useful for student interpreters that still are not fully fluent in interpreting dense or contextually difficult (containing national references, for example) material that is frequently introduced by disclaimers. In case of professional interpreters, disclaimer-based terminology exercises could be used to study permissiveness, frequency and consequences of disclaimers used in the source language. Thus, it enhances the understanding of a given way of thinking, ideology or situation.

In conclusion, CDA-based discourse analysis exercises that consist on identification, description, timely recognition and interpreting of discourse strategies categories should be adapted to the needs of different group of class participants and their interpreting skills, linguistic and contextual development. An array of variants of exercises based on CDA and presented here through the analysis of Pablo Iglesias´ speech include also more profound analysis; identifying discourse categories, comparison of strategies between source languages and the description of discourse strategies and their analysis as a part of linguistic vision of the world. CDA-based exercises can be used to practise alertness and anticipation; allow to construct a fuller picture of an ideology and context in general. Obviously, presented here discourse analysis if used in interpreter training cannot be completely neutral and objective because of its critical character. However, the critique reflects the very non-objective and non-natural nature of language and seems to facilitate clearer distinction and comprehension of cognitive models of a source language useful to convey the message into a target language. All these aspects shall be studied beyond this initial approximation must be further developed in the future.


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VAN DIJK T. A. El discurso como estructura y proceso. Barcelona: Gedisa, 2000b.

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http://www.europarl.europa.eu [10/09/2016].


1 - Van Dijk T. A. 2005.  [retour]

2 - Van Dijk T. A. 2005, 729.  [retour]

3 - Van Dijk T. A. 2005, 730.  [retour]

4 - Van Dijk T. A. 2000a, 32.  [retour]

5 - Lakoff G. 1987, 15.  [retour]

6 - Van Dijk T. A. 2005, 738.  [retour]

7 - Van Dijk T. A. 2005, 739.  [retour]

8 - www.europarl.europa.eu  [retour]

9 - Emphasis mine.  [retour]

10 - Van Dijk T. A. 2007.  [retour]

11 - Lakoff G. 1987, 23.  [retour]

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