Semester of Graduation

Spring 2021


Master of Arts (MA)


The Department of World Languages and Literatures

Document Type



The principal aim of this thesis is to carry out a discourse analysis of a real-world example of simultaneous interpretation in action. I selected President Barack Obama’s 2013 address to the United Nations General Assembly as the English text which was interpreted. The interpreted Spanish was provided by a Euronews broadcast and was simultaneously interpreted and broadcast live. These two versions of the speech are analyzed side by side to identify and attempt to explain errors committed by the interpreter. In order to conduct this analysis, I combine portions of the error coding schemes developed by Altman (1994) and Barik (1971) to analyze the discourse for errors. After the analysis is complete, I compile the errors and conduct a metanalysis in which I combine the total number of errors of various categories to create two new categories: Gross Detriment Factor and Mild Detriment Factor. These two categories help to explain the effect that various error types have on the transfer of meaning from language to language, namely those that have a severe detrimental effect on the meaning and those that have a mild detriment effect. The aim of this thesis is to, first, add to the field of research by providing a line by line discourse analysis of simultaneous interpretation (SI) in action, something few papers do; second, to demonstrate how errors interfere with the comprehensibility of the interpretation; and third, to identify if the various mental models theorized in the literature are observable in the analysis Then, I will provide examples and discussion of how the speech was perceived by the Hispanic community. Finally, I catalog the kind and number of errors made by the interpreter to evaluate methods of interpretation.

Committee Chair

Dr. Mary Brody



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