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Abstract

This research paper reports on a study involving the use of literal and non-literal or idiomatic language in a multilingual interpreter classroom. Previous research has shown that interpreters are not always able to identify and correctly interpret idiomatic language. This study first examined student interpreters’ perceptions of the importance of idiomatic language, then followed by assessing their ability to identify phrases that were literal, idiomatic or both. Lastly it looked at student interpreters’ ability to correctly identify and explain idioms in short phrases and dialogues. Findings showed that, after this exercise, students' awareness of the difference between literal and non-literal language increased, however their ability to correctly identify it did not. Furthermore, their previous focus on 'specialized terminology' led them to believe that language other than this was hardly worth learning. The article concludes with recommendations for incorporating the findings of this research into interpreter education.

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