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How Different Time Perception between English and Korean Affects K-to-E Simultaneous Interpretation—Focusing on Tense Errors

  • The Journal of Translation Studies
  • Abbr : JTS
  • 2021, 22(4), pp.159-189
  • DOI : 10.15749/jts.2021.22.4.006
  • Publisher : The Korean Association for Translation Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Interpretation and Translation Studies
  • Received : September 5, 2021
  • Accepted : October 7, 2021
  • Published : October 31, 2021

Jong-Hwa Won 1

1중앙대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Time is seen from a completely different perspective by Korean and English speakers. For Korean speakers, time is cyclic. It does not disappear into the past. Rather, time comes around again and again in a circle. In their perception, they can move rather freely across time and space. Thus past tense is often mixed with future tense, as though the speaker were able to teleport her/himself from the past immediately to the future (e.g. If you do not come here tomorrow, you must have been dead.). For English speakers, however, time runs in a linear manner, segmented by strict rules. The tenses are not mixed, and observing these rules sequentially gives texts logic and coherence. This paper aims to investigate how different perception of time affects the interpretation process during Korean to English simultaneous interpretation. For the investigation, the files of K-to-E simultaneous interpretation by 2 Korean graduate students and 2 foreign graduate students(1 American, 1 British) were transcribed and analyzed for tense errors. According to the results of the investigation, both groups(Korean and Foreign) made a similar number of tense errors. The types of their errors, however, were totally different. Foreign students made tense errors because they could not follow the mixture of tense in a sentence or in a paragraph, characteristic of cyclic time perception. In the meantime, Korean students tended to fail to use accurate tense forms. They sometimes fail to maintain tense consistency in a paragraph, reflecting their time perception. The conclusion of this study is that tense errors made by students should be approached not only from a linguistic perspective but also from a cultural perspective, and lessons should be conducted to reflect this reality.

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