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Birgitta Englund Dimitrova

About me

I am Professor Emerita of Translation Studies at Stockholm University. 

 

Current research

Dialogue interpreting: interaction and cognition

Interpreted encounters of various kinds have been one of my main research interests since the end of the 1980s, with publications from 1991 and onwards. Being one of the pioneers in using video recordings for conversation analysis of dialogue interpreting, my first studies in the 1990s concerned interpreted medical encounters (Spanish-Swedish). I did a multimodal analysis of non-verbal aspects of the encounters, focusing on the interpreter’s role in turn-taking and feedback.

Later, I have returned to research on dialogue interpreting.  The project Invisible process – cognition and working memory of dialogue interpreting  is led by Senior Lecturer Elisabet Tiselius, being financed for the years 2017-2023 by the Swedish Research Council (project description, see pdf to the right). The project investigates the cognitive processes of dialogue interpreters with different amount of interpreting experience, using both quantitative and qualitative research methods.  Languages are Swedish, French, Polish, and Spanish. The researchers in this project are Elisabet Tiselius, PhD student Aleksandra Adler and myself. In 2018, MA student Thomas Thomsen finished his Masters thesis within the project. With Elisabet Tiselius, I have several joint publications within the project: 1) 2016: an outline of a cognitive model of dialogue interpreting; 2) 2019: paper on dialogue interpreters' language proficiency, see below under Publications; 3) 2021: paper on cognitive aspects of turn-taking in dialogue interpreting, see below under  Publications; 4) forthcoming (2022-2023): on the dialogue interpreter’s monitoring processes; 5) in progress: a paper on working memory of dialogue interpreters, based on psychometric tests. 

I have also investigated interpreting ethics and cognitive load in a TV-show, where the show leader has two functions: to interview a Russian-speaking guest (Soviet pop singer Alla Pugacheva) while also functioning as an interpreter (for the Swedish audience). Two articles from this project were published in 2019; one (in Swedish) dealing with the cognitive load involved in the double functions, the other (in English) discussing ethical issues of dual-role mediation. Both articles are available with open access, see Publications below.

Translation and interpreting in 18th century Sweden: with a focus on the translations of Johan Helmich Roman

Johan Helmich Roman (1694-1758) was a Swedish composer, often called "The father of Swedish music", and is perhaps most well-known for The Drottningholm music (1744). Roman also actively promoted the use of the Swedish language in church music by translating, both church music and theoretical works of music. In June 2020, I presented some preliminary results and research questions in this project at the on-line conference Musikforskning idag (Musicology today), see pdf with abstract  to the right on this page. In 2021, I have had presentations at research seminars and one conferences. An article published in 2021 (see below under Publications) analyzes the primary sources for Roman's orchestra suite The Golovin music (1728), offering a partially new interpretation of some information in them. Another publication from this project discusses a description from 1759 of Lars Nilsson in Flinsmåla; allegedly, the first mention in Sweden of a Deaf man communicating with signs. My article proposes the hypotheses that this can be a case of non-professional interpreting, i.e. a conversation that has been brokered by a bilingual family member. See Publications below.

 

Previous research - an overview

Cognitive aspects of the translation and interpreting process. Publications from 1993 and onwards  

Cognitive aspects of the translation and interpreting process has been one of my research areas for a number of years, yielding a large number of publications. I have studied the phases of the translation process and their characteristics, particularly how translators review and revise their translations. This focus was connected with a study of how translators with different amount of translation experience approach a translation task, and, as a particular aspect of this, expertise in the translation process. I have also elaborated a method for studying, in process based data, textual characteristics of the target text, i e, a combined process and product approach. I applied the method in a study of how translators deal with implicit information in the source text and eventual explicitations in the process and product. Languages: Russian and Swedish. Main research/data collection methods have been keystroke logging and introspection (think-aloud and retrospection).

I am now further developing this research interest in the current project Invisible process – cognition and working memory of community interpreting, see above.

Translation Studies in Sweden during 30 years – a bibliography

I have been gathering information about Swedish books published within Translation Studies over the last 30 years. The bibliography has now been published electronically, see below under Publications.

Translation of dialect in fiction. Publications from 1987 and onwards

I have worked on this project on and off during my entire work as a Translation Studies scholar, and as a result published 7 papers, published in Sweden, Finland, Germany and Russia.  The first paper (1987, in Bulgarian) took as the starting point my own work as a translator, grappling with the problem of translating a rural Bulgarian dialect in a modern short story into Swedish. 5 papers (1997 and 2004 in English; 2001, 2002 and 2012 in Swedish) theorize dialect translation and analyze empirically patterns of dialect features in Swedish literature and their translations into English, French, Bulgarian and Russian. The latest publication (2016, in Swedish) triangulates different empirical methods: text analysis, introspection (translators’ commentaries) and readers’ focus group discussion. Several of the papers deal with children’s literature.

Slavic and Bulgarian studies. Publications between 1977 and 1988

My very first research area was within Slavic and Bulgarian Studies. My PhD thesis was a contrastive study of the syntax of yes/no-questions in modern Bulgarian and Macedonian, and I have also published articles on other selected grammatical problems in modern Bulgarian and Macedonian.  Furthermore, many of my publications within Translation and Interpreting Studies deal with one or more Slavic languages. 

 

A snapshot of my career

1977

PhD Slavic linguistics (Bulgarian and Macedonian), Stockholm University

1978-1983

Teaching Bulgarian at Department of Slavic and Baltic Languages, Stockhom University

1983-1986

Engaged in a project for developing interpreting service within the health care system of Stockholm regional council. During this time, I also taught Macedonian at Uppsala University and Bulgarian at Oslo University, Norway.

1986-1994

Assistant Professor, from 1992 Associate Professor, of Bilingualism/Translation/Interpreting, at Department of Slavic languages (1986-1988) and Centre for Research on bilingualism, Stockholm University  

1994-2006

Associate Professor of Translation and Interpreting at Institute for Interpretation and Translation Studies, Stockholm University

2006-2013

Full Professor in Translation Studies, at Institute for Interpretation and Translation Studies, Stockholm University

2013-

professor emerita, at Institute for Interpreting and Translation Studies, Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism, Stockholm University

 

My publications

See pdf file to the right for a full list of my publications.

A large number of my publications are electronically available, in DIVA, the publication database of Stockholm University, and also on my academia webpage, see link to the right. However, for copyright reasons, I cannot give access to all my publications on internet. 

 

Publications

A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • ”Han tecknar väl sina tankar, som dumbar merendels plägar”. Tolkning av en dövs berättelse på 1700-talet.

    2022. Birgitta Englund Dimitrova. Tango för tre: en dansant festskrift till Cecilia Wadensjö., 51-62

    Chapter

    1759 publicerades i Kungliga Vetenskapsakademiens Handlingar en beskrivning av den småländska socknen Ålhem, skriven av Anders Wijkström. Beskrivningen koncentreras på socknens naturresurser och ekonomiska förhållanden, men tar också upp i viss detalj en sockeninvånare som är döv och kommunicerar med tecken. Detta antas vara det första omnämnandet av kommunikation med tecken i en svensk kontext (Bergman & Engberg-Pedersen 2010). Föreliggande studie har två syften. För det första, att presentera tidigare okända uppgifter om den döve från samtida källor, främst kyrkböcker, husförslängder, mantalslängder och jordeböcker, för att kontextualisera 1700-talsbeskrivningen och ge en bild av några aspekter av en dövs liv på 1700-talets svenska landsbygd. För det andra, att relatera informationen i Wijkströms beskrivning till modern forskning om teckenspråk och språkmedling av familjemedlemmar, och att föreslå att beskrivningen kan vara ett tidigt svenskt exempel på tvåspråkighet och språkmedling i familjen (eng. non-professional interpreting).

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  • Golovinmusiken av Johan Helmich Roman: vad säger källorna?

    2021. Birgitta Englund Dimitrova. Гуманитарный полилог. Сборник статей к юбилею ЕленыМихайловны Чекалиной [Gumanitarnyj polilog. Sbornik stat’ej k jubileju E. M. Čekalinoj], 278-287

    Chapter

    ”Den svenska musikens fader” Johan Helmich Roman (1694-1758) var kompositör och hovkapellmästare men också översättare, med kunskaper i ett flertal språk. Ett av hans tidigare verk är orkestersviten Golovinmusiken. Den komponerades till en festlighet i Stockholm, ordnad av den ryske ambassadören Nikolaj Fjodorovitj Golovin för att fira kröningen av tsar Peter II av Ryssland (1728). Artikeln analyserar och diskuterar de två hittills kända svenska primärkällorna och föreslår en delvis ny tolkning av evenemanget och dess musik.

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  • Turn-taking in dialogue interpreting

    2021. Elisabet Tiselius, Birgitta Englund Dimitrova. Cognitive Linguistic Studies 8 (2), 328-355

    Article

    This study addresses cognitive aspects of turn-taking and the role of experience in dialogue interpreting, by investigating the temporal and textual properties of the coupled turn (i.e. the original utterance and its interpretation). A comparison was made using a video-recorded scripted role-play between eight interpreters, with Swedish-French or Swedish-Spanish as working languages and with different levels of experience. Cognitively challenging long stretches of talk were introduced in both directions of the working languages and analyzed with a multi-modal approach. We identified a number of quantitative measures, such as the number of coupled turns and the time used. Furthermore, we qualitatively analyzed the types of renditions. The findings suggest that the mean length of time of the coupled turn, which we label processing span, is a measure that is not primarily related to interpreting experience but rather reflects the constraints of the interpreter’s working memory. A further finding is that the inexperienced interpreters have a higher percentage of reduced renditions than the experienced interpreters, and this difference is statistically significant.

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  • Översättningsvetenskap i Sverige - 30 års bokpublikationer.

    2021. Birgitta Englund Dimitrova.

    Book

    Den här bibliografin förtecknar böcker om översättning och tolkning, skrivna av författare bosatta eller verksamma i Sverige. De år som bibliografin täcker, 1986 – 2015, karakteriseras av en stark utveckling av översättningsvetenskapen/Translation Studies, inte bara i Sverige utan också internationellt. Bibliografin ger en bild av vilka forskare i Sverige som arbetat med översättningsvetenskapliga frågeställningar under dessa tre decennier och deras arbeten. 

    Read more about Översättningsvetenskap i Sverige - 30 års bokpublikationer.
  • ’Jag tror den kommer från himlen.’ En fallstudie av kognitiv belastning i TV-tolkning.

    2019. Birgitta Englund Dimitrova. Slavica Antiqua et Hodierna. En hyllningsskrift till Per Ambrosiani., 235-250

    Chapter

    This paper is a case study of cognitive load in consecutive interpreting. The data is taken from an example of dual role mediation in an entertainment show on Swedish TV, where the host interviews a Russian-speaking guest while at the same time functioning as interpreter for the Swedish viewers.  The assumption of the study is that performing such double functions is cognitively taxing and may lead to cognitive overload, affecting the interpreting process. Methodologically, the study uses multimodal conversation analysis for the analysis of utterances in combination with non-verbal elements (gaze, hand movements). This analysis from a micro perspective is embedded within a macro perspective analysis where elements of thick description serve to contextualize the situation in order to tentatively explain some problems in the interpreting process and the strategies used to solve them.

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  • Asymmetrical language proficiency in dialogue interpreters

    2019. Elisabet Tiselius, Birgitta Englund Dimitrova.

    Article

    Language proficiency of dialogue interpreters, who typically work in the public service sector, is an under-researched area. Contrary to conference interpreters, for dialogue interpreters there is no generally accepted definition of proficiency levels of working languages. This article discusses language proficiency in dialogue interpreting. It presents a methodological problem, namely, how to define and determine a given interpreter’s stronger and weaker working language. In our article we discuss different methods for determining the individual interpreter’s stronger and weaker working languages, such as self-assessment, demographic, socio-linguistic questionnaire and test score (Dialang). We conclude that there is a need for more research into this area.

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  • Changing Footings on 'Jacob's Ladder': dealing with sensitive issues in dual-role mediation on a Swedish TV-show

    2018. Birgitta Englund Dimitrova.

    Article

    This case study examines a Swedish TV interview with a Soviet pop singer in 1985 where the talk show host, who is both a trained interpreter and an experienced media journalist, acts as a dual-role mediator, interviewing and interpreting at the same time. The analysis is contextualized within the political and military relations between Sweden and the USSR in the 1980s. Theoretically, the study draws on ethics of interpreting, ethics of entertainment and the notions participation status or footing. A potential challenge for a dual-role mediator is that two different ethical stances are involved; here, ethics of entertainment (entertainment, comfort, culture value orientation) and ethics of interpreting (impartiality, neutrality, accuracy). These may clash, but the study claims that the different stances can also be used to the participants’ advantage. Here, the role of talk show host dominates over the role of interpreter, and interpreting ethics can be flouted and played with if it suits the purposes of the former. The study shows the complexity of dual-role mediation and emphasizes the need to take into account the perspectives of both of the involved roles in research on participants’ interaction and changes of footing.

    Read more about Changing Footings on 'Jacob's Ladder': dealing with sensitive issues in dual-role mediation on a Swedish TV-show
  • Exploring the Situational Interface of Translation and Cognition. 

    2018. Birgitta Englund Dimitrova, Maureen Ehrensberger-Dow.

    Book

     The contributions of this volume explore the dynamics of the interface between the cognitive and situational levels in translation and interpreting. Until relatively recently, there has been an invisible line in translation and interpreting studies between cognitive research (e.g., into mental processes or attitudes) and sociological research (e.g., concerning organization, status, or institutions). However, rapid developments in translation and interpreting practices (professional, non-professional) have brought to the fore the need to rethink theoretical perspectives and to apply new research methods. The chapters in this volume aim to contribute to this discussion through conceptual and/or empirical research. Drawing on different theoretical and methodological frameworks, they offer insights into diverse translation and interpreting situations, in a number of different countries and cultures, and their consequences for individual and collective cognition. Originally published as special issue of Translation Spaces 5:1 (2016). 

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  • Cognitive aspects of community interpreting. Toward a process model

    2016. Birgitta Englund Dimitrova, Elisabet Tiselius. Reembedding Translation Process Research, 195-214

    Chapter

    This article discusses cognitive aspects of professional community interpreting. We give an overview of earlier research into community interpreting, arguing that cognitive aspects have largely been neglected. We propose that in building a model of the mental processes of the community interpreter, different kinds of monitoring are a crucial and pervasive component. Monitoring contributes to and enables the double function of the interpreter: translating and managing the interaction of the interpreted encounter. We furthermore stress the importance of the notion of professional self-concept for explaining the interpreter’s decision-making and exemplify this by analyzing turn-taking in two Swedish-Spanish interpreted encounters.

    Read more about Cognitive aspects of community interpreting. Toward a process model
  • Emil i Lönneberga i nya ryska kläder

    2016. Birgitta Englund Dimitrova. Sinhronija, diahronija, tekstologija. Sbornik naučnyh stat’ej i perevodov, 355-362

    Chapter

    Artikeln behandlar dialekt i barnboksöversättning, på grundval av Emil i Lönneberga i översättning till ryska. Materialet är a) 20 olika översättningar till ryska (2 publicerade och 18 gjorda av ryska universitetsstudenter i svenska), b) studenternas kommentarer till sina översättningar, och c) en fokusgruppsdiskussion (6 ryska universitetsstudenter i svenska) av de olika lösningarna. Studien visar en bred variation i olika lösningstyper och konkreta lösningar. Den morfosyntaktiska lösningstypen framträder här som översättningsnorm [Toury 1995]. Den har störst frekvens i materialet, den förekommer i båda de publicerade versionerna och den tas emot mest positivt av läsarna. Övriga lösningstyper är mindre frekventa och har en mer idiosynkratisk karaktär. En jämförelse mellan översättningskommentarerna och diskussionen med läsarna visar att det inte alltid finns överensstämmelse mellan hur översättarens intention och läsarnas reception.

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  • Retrospection in interpreting and translation: explaining the process?

    2014. Birgitta Englund Dimitrova, Elisabet Tiselius. Monografías de Traducción e Interpretación MonTi Special Issue (ed. R. Muñoz Martín) 1 (1), 177-200

    Article

    For studying the processes involved in translation and in interpreting, retrospection is one of the few research methods equally suitable for both areas. At the first workshop on research methods in process-oriented research, in Graz in 2009, we presented the results of a pilot study of retrospection as a research method, published as Englund Dimitrova and Tiselius (2009). The study involved data from two groups (15 years of professional experience vs. no professional experience), each with 3+3 subjects (interpreter subjects vs. translator subjects, all with Swedish as their L1). The source text was a 10-minute plenary speech in English from the European Parliament, interpreted simultaneously into Swedish. For the translation data, the translator subjects translated the original European Parliament transcript of the speech, 1,093 words, writing in Translog. After the task, subjects did immediate retrospection. The first analysis of the data indicated that a challenge when using retrospection is that subjects tend to report having forgotten about some of their processes.

     

    In this paper we report an analysis of the process data in relation to the retrospective protocols. Our focus is on reported problems and the occurrences of problem indicators in the process. It was found that most reported problems are confirmed by the presence of problem indicators in the process. However, the majority of problem indicators found in the process do not correspond to any reported problem. Hence, the subjects’ problem reports can only explain a limited number of the potential problems in the process. The need for further research into retrospection as a research method in Translation Studies is pointed out.

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