Interpreting conflicts and conflicts in interpreting: A micro-historical account of the interpreting activity in the Korean Armistice Negotiations




Korean Armistice Negotiations, interpreting, role of interpreters, conflicts in interpreting



The Korean Armistice Negotiations are among the major historical events shaping geopolitical situations in East Asia after World War II. While previous studies of the negotiations followed mainly the approach of traditional historical research, the present study offers a new perspective of the ‘neglected’ participants – the interpreters who worked for the series of negotiations. An analysis of “post-hoc accounts” of interpreters, using a micro-historical approach, demonstrates complexity of interpreting for wartime negotiations and reveals various conflicts in the interpreting of armistice negotiations as perceived by the interpreters. Intense conflicts were found in the interpreting activity, including: conflicts between the interpreters on both sides of the negotiations, hidden conflicts between the interpreters and their principals, conflicts between different interpreter roles, conflicts over language use between the two sides of the negotiations, and conflicts arising from misconceptions of the interpreting activity. It was also discovered that the interpreters in the armistice negotiations were generally loyal as the army soldiers instead of maintaining a neutral stance, such as is expected from professional interpreters nowadays. The micro-historical study of the interpreters’ accounts of the major historical events can be useful in exploring and explaining what is hidden behind the complexity of conflicts, thus offering a new approach to interpreting studies as well as to historical studies.

Author Biographies

Binhua Wang, Centre for Translation Studies, University of Leeds

Dr. Binhua Wang is currently Associate Professor of interpreting and translation studies at the Centre for Translation Studies, University of Leeds. Previously he worked as assistant professor at the Centre for Translation Studies, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and associate professor and head of the Department of Interpreting at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. He is also a veteran conference interpreter. His research interest lies in various aspects of interpreting studies. He has authored a monograph (A Descriptive Study of Norms in Interpreting, 2013), co-edited a collection (Interpreting in China: New Trends and Challenges, 2010) and co-translated the book of Introducing Interpreting Studies (2009). He has published over 30 articles in CSSCI journals and several articles in SSCI/A&HCI journals such as Interpreting, Meta, Perspectives and Babel.

Minhui Xu, English Department Ocean University of China

Dr Minhui Xu is Professor of the English Department at Ocean University of China. Her main research interest is translation studies.


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How to Cite

Wang, B., & Xu, M. (2016). Interpreting conflicts and conflicts in interpreting: A micro-historical account of the interpreting activity in the Korean Armistice Negotiations. Linguistica Antverpiensia, New Series – Themes in Translation Studies, 15.