Dr Elena Davitti

Associate Professor in Translation Studies
BA and MA (Bologna at Forlì), PhD (Manchester)
+44 (0)1483 689968
05 LC 03
Semester 1: Tuesdays 12-13 and Wednesdays 12-13


Areas of specialism

Hybrid interpreting modalities; Interlingual respeaking; Live subtitling via speech recognition; Real-time interlingual speech-to-text transfer; Interpreting and technologies; Video-mediated and mobile interpreting; Multimodal, communicative and interactional dynamics of interpreting; Innovations in interpreter education

University roles and responsibilities

  • Programme Leader of MA Interpreting (Multilingual Pathway)
  • Programme Leader of MA Translation and Interpreting

    My qualifications

    PhD in Translation and Intercultural Studies
    University of Manchester
    MA in Conference Interpreting
    University of Bologna at Forlì
    BA in Liaison Interpreting and Translation
    University of Bologna at Forlì

    Affiliations and memberships

    Co-founder and member of LARIM (Research Laboratory on Interpreter-mediated Interaction), UNINT, Rome, Italy
    Member of A:IM (Interuniversity Centre for the Analysis of Interaction and Mediation), University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy


    Research interests

    Research projects

    SMART project logo


    Postgraduate research supervision


    M Olohan, E Davitti (2015)Dynamics of Trusting in Translation Project Management Leaps of Faith and Balancing Acts, In: Journal of Contemporary Ethnography: a journal of ethnographic research

    This paper examines the work of project managers in two UK-based translation companies. Drawing on participant observation, interviews, and artifacts from field sites, our analysis focuses on the ways in which trust is developed and maintained in the relationships that project managers build, on the one hand, with the clients who commission them to undertake translation projects, and, on the other, with freelance translators who perform the translation work. The project manager’s ability both to confer and to instill trust is highlighted as key to the successful operation of the company. Conceptualizing trust as a dynamic process, we consider what this process of trusting entails in this context: positive expectations visà-vis the other parties; willingness to expose oneself to vulnerabilities; construction of bases for suspending doubts and uncertainties (leaps of faith). We observe the important role of communication and discursive strategies in building and maintaining trust and draw conclusions for translator education.

    In the last two decades, Dialogue Interpreting (DI) has been studied extensively through the lenses of discourse analysis and conversation analysis. As a result, DI has been recognised as an interactional communicative event, in which all the participants jointly and actively collaborate. Nevertheless, most of these studies focused merely on the verbal level of interaction, whereas its multimodal dimension has not received much attention so far, and the literature on this subject is still scarce and dispersed. By analysing and comparing two sequences, taken from a corpus of face-to-face interpreter-mediated encounters in pedagogical settings, this study aims at showing how multimodal analysis can contribute to a deeper understanding of the interactional dynamics of DI. In particular, the paper shows how participants employ multimodal resources (gaze, gesture, body position, proxemics, object manipulation) to co-construct different participation frameworks throughout the encounters, and how the “ecology of action” (i.e., the relationships between the participants and the surrounding environment) influences the development of interaction.

    Elena Davitti, Annalisa Sandrelli (2020)Embracing the Complexity: a pilot study on Interlingual Respeaking, In: Journal of Audiovisual Translation European Association for Studies in Screen Translation

    This paper presents the key findings of the pilot phase of SMART (Shaping Multilingual Access though Respeaking Technology), a multidisciplinary international project focusing on interlingual respeaking (IRSP) for real-time speech-to-text. SMART addresses key questions around IRSP feasibility, quality and competences. The pilot project is based on experiments involving 25 postgraduate students who performed two IRSP tasks (English-Italian) after a crash course. The analysis triangulates subtitle accuracy rates with participants’ subjective ratings and retrospective self-analysis. The best performers were those with a composite skillset, including interpreting/subtitling and interpreting/subtitling/respeaking. Participants indicated multitasking, time-lag, and monitoring of the speech recognition software output as the main difficulties; together with the great variability in performance, personal traits emerged as likely to affect performance. This pilot lays the conceptual and methodological foundations for a larger project involving professionals, to address a set of urgent questions for the industry.

    E Davitti, S Pasquandrea (2014)Enhancing research-led interpreter education: an exploratory study in Applied Conversation Analysis, In: INTERPRETER AND TRANSLATOR TRAINER8(3)pp. 374-398 ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD

    In recent years, conversation analysts have developed a growing interest in the Applied branch of Conversation Analysis (CA). Authors such as Antaki, Heritage and Richards and Seedhouse have explored the practical applications of CA in institutional contexts, to shed light on their dynamics and to suggest improvements in the services provided. On the other hand, over the past two decades, interactionally oriented methodologies have been successfully applied to the study of interpreter-mediated interaction. Nevertheless, the potential of CA for interpreter training has not been fully explored, especially with regard to the impact of multimodal semiotic resources (gaze, gesture, posture) on triadic communication. This paper illustrates the results of an exploratory study in Applied CA conducted within a postgraduate interpreting module at an Italian university. Four different extracts of interpreter-mediated encounters, video-recorded in real-life settings, were submitted to the students in order to test their reactions, guide them in analysis and raise their awareness of the problems and challenges posed by real-life scenarios. Through the triangulation of findings from recorded classroom discussion and questionnaires, the present paper discusses the implications of using CA in interpreter education.

    E Davitti, S Pasquandrea (2014)Dialogue Interpreting in Practice: Bridging the gap between empirical research and interpreter education, In: INTERPRETER AND TRANSLATOR TRAINER8(3)pp. 329-335 ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD
    Elena Davitti, Sabine Braun (2020)Analysing Interactional Phenomena in Video Remote Interpreting in Collaborative Settings: Implications for Interpreter Education, In: The Interpreter and Translator Trainer Taylor & Francis (Routledge)

    Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) is a modality of interpreting where the interpreter interacts with the other parties-at-talk through an audiovisual link without sharing the same physical interactional space. In dialogue settings, existing research on VRI has mostly drawn on the analysis of verbal behaviour to explore the complex dynamics of these ‘triadic’ exchanges. However, understanding the complexity of VRI requires a more holistic analysis of its dynamics in different contexts as a situated, embodied activity where resources other than talk (such as gaze, gestures, head and body movement) play a central role in the co-construction of the communicative event. This paper draws on extracts from a corpus of VRI encounters in collaborative contexts (e.g. nurse-patient interaction, customer services) to investigate how specific interactional phenomena which have been explored in traditional settings of dialogue interpreting (e.g. turn management, dyadic sequences, spatial management) unfold in VRI. In addition, the paper will identify the coping strategies implemented by interpreters to deal with various challenges. This fine-grained, microanalytical look at the data will complement the findings provided by research on VRI in legal/adversarial contexts and provide solid grounds to evaluate the impact of different moves. Its systematic integration into training will lead to a more holistic approach to VRI education.

    M Biagini, Elena Davitti, A Sandrelli (2016)Participation in Interpreter-Mediated Interaction: Shifting along a multidimensional continuum, In: Journal of Pragmatics107pp. 87-90 Elsevier
    Elena Davitti (2018)Methodological explorations of interpreter-mediated interaction: novel insights from multimodal analysis, In: Qualitative Research. Special Issue: Multimodality: Methodological Explorations19(1)pp. 7-29 SAGE Publications

    Research in Dialogue Interpreting (DI) has traditionally drawn on qualitative analysis of verbal behaviour to explore the complex dynamics of these ‘triadic’ exchanges. Less attention has been paid to interpreter-mediated interaction as a situated, embodied activity where resources other than talk (such as gaze, gestures, head and body movement, proxemics) play a central role in the co-construction of the communicative event. This article argues that understanding the complexity of DI requires careful investigation of the interplay between multiple interactional resources, i.e. verbal in conjunction with visual, aural, embodied and spatial meaning-making resources. This call for methodological innovation is strengthened by the emergence of video-mediated interpreting, where interacting via screens without sharing the same physical space adds a further layer of complexity to interactional dynamics. Drawing on authentic extracts from interpreter-mediated interaction, both face-to-face and video-mediated, this article problematizes how the integration of a multimodal perspective into qualitative investigation of interpreter-mediated interaction can contribute to the advancement of our understanding of key interactional dynamics in DI and, in turn, broaden the scope of multimodality to include new, uncharted territory.

    Research on dialogue interpreting shows that interpreters do not simply convey speech content, but also perform crucial coordinating and mediating functions. This descriptive study, which is based on PhD research conducted at the University of Manchester, explores the activity of qualified dialogue interpreters in three video-recorded parent-teacher meetings involving immigrant mothers. English and Italian are the languages used, the meetings having taken place in the UK (one case) and Italy (two cases). The study focuses on interpreters' handling of evaluative assessment, in many cases introduced by them in the target speech as an "upgrading rendition". Transcribed extracts are examined in a micro-analytical perspective, the dynamics of each actor's (dis)engagement towards interlocutors being studied in relation to gaze patterns annotated by dedicated software. Results show that the interpreter actively promotes alignment between the parties; however, s/he often does so by emphasising positive considerations to the mother. The outcome of this approach is that the mother accepts, but is not encouraged to co-construct a negotiated solution: she is assimilated, not empowered. © John Benjamins Publishing Company.

    Sabine Braun, Elena Davitti, Catherine Slater (2020)'It's like being in bubbles': affordances and challenges of virtual learning environments for collaborative learning in interpreter education, In: The interpreter and translator trainer14(3)pp. 259-278 Routledge

    We report on a study evaluating the educational opportunities that highly multimodal and interactive Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) provide for collaborative learning in the context of interpreter education. The study was prompted by previous research into the use of VLEs in interpreter education, which showed positive results but which focused on preparatory or ancillary activities and/or individual interpreting practice. The study reported here, which was part of a larger project on evaluating the use of VLEs in educating interpreters and their potential clients, explored the affordances of a videoconferencing platform and a 3D virtual world for collaborative learning in the context of dialogue interpreting. The participants were 13 student-interpreters, who conducted role-play simulations in both environments. Through a mix of methods such as non-participant observation, reflective group discussions, linguistic analysis of the recorded simulations, and a user experience survey several dimensions of using the VLEs were explored including the linguistic/discursive dimension (interpreting), the interactional dimension (communication management between the participants), the ergonomic dimension (human-computer interaction) and the psychological dimension (user experience, sense of presence). Both VLEs were found to be capable of supporting situated and autonomous learning in the interpreting context, although differences arose regarding the reported user experience.

    Muhammad Ahmed Saeed, Eloy Rodriguez Gonzalez, Tomasz Grzegorz Korybski, Elena Davitti, Sabine Braun (2022)Connected yet Distant: An Experimental Study into the Visual Needs of the Interpreter in Remote Simultaneous Interpreting, In: 24th HCI International Conference (HCII 2022) Proceedings, Part III Springer

    Remote simultaneous interpreting (RSI) draws on Information and Communication Technologies to facilitate multilingual communication by connecting conference interpreters to in-presence, virtual or hybrid events. Early solutions for RSI involved interpreters working in interpreting booths with ISOstandardised equipment. However, in recent years, cloud-based solutions for RSI have emerged, with innovative Simultaneous Interpreting Delivery Platforms (SIDPs) at their core, enabling RSI delivery from anywhere. SIDPs recreate the interpreter's console and work environment (Braun 2019) as a bespoke software/videoconferencing platform with interpretation-focused features. Although initial evaluations of SIDPs were conducted before the Covid-19 pandemic (e.g., DG SCIC 2019), research on RSI (booth-based and software-based) remains limited. Pre-pandemic research shows that RSI is demanding in terms of information processing and mental modelling (Braun 2007; Moser-Mercer 2005), and suggests that the limited visual input available in RSI constitutes a particular problem (Mouzourakis 2006; Seeber et al. 2019). Besides, initial explorations of the cloud-based solutions suggest that there is room for improving the interfaces of widely used SIDPs (Bujan and Collard 2021; DG SCIC 2019). The experimental project presented in this paper investigates two aspects of SIDPs: the design of the interpreter interface and the integration of supporting technologies. Drawing on concepts and methods from user experience research and human-computer interaction, we explore what visual information is best suited to support the interpreting process and the interpreter-machine interaction, how this information is best presented in the interface, and how automatic speech recognition can be integrated into an RSI platform to aid/augment the interpreter's source-text comprehension.

    E Davitti (2015)Interpreter-mediated parent-teacher talk, In: L Grujicic-Alatriste (eds.), Linking Discourse Studies to Professional Practice(9)pp. 176-200 Multilingual Matters

    This book examines how researchers of discourse analysis could best disseminate their work in real world settings. The chapters include studies on spoken and written discourse using various analysis techniques, and the authors discuss how they could best engage professional practice in their work. Techniques used include Conversation Analysis in combination with other methods, genre analysis in combination with other methods, and Critical Discourse Analysis. Contributions are loosely grouped by setting and include the following settings: workplace and business; education; private and public; and government and media. The volume aims to link the end of research and the onset of praxis by creating collaboration with the places of practice, helping analysts to move forward with ideas for dissemination, collaboration and even intervention. The book will be of interest to all researchers conducting discourse analysis in professional settings.

    E Davitti (2016)Dialogue Interpreting as a Multimodal Activity in Community Settings, In: V Bonsignori, B Crawford Camiciottoli (eds.), Multimodality Across Communicative Settings, Discourse Domains and Genrespp. 116-143 Cambridge Scholars Publishing

    This volume focuses on multimodality in various communicative settings, with special attention to how non-verbal elements reinforce and add meaning to verbal expressions. The first part of the book explores issues related to the use of multimodal resources in educational interactions and English language classroom teaching, also involving learners with disabilities. The second part, on the other hand, investigates multimodality as a key component of communication that takes place in different specialized domains and genres. The book reflects a variety of methodological approaches that are grounded in both quantitative and qualitative techniques. These include multimodal discourse analysis, multimodal transcription, and multimodal annotation software capable of representing the interplay of different semiotic modes, such as speech, intonation, direction of gaze, facial expressions, gestures and spatial positioning of interlocutors.

    E Davitti (2015)Gaze, In: F Pöchhacker, N Grbic, P Mead, R Setton (eds.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Interpreting Studiespp. 168-168 Routledge

    The Routledge Encyclopedia of Interpreting Studies is the authoritative reference for anyone with an academic or professional interest in interpreting. Drawing on the expertise of an international team of specialist contributors, this single-volume reference presents the state of the art in interpreting studies in a much more fine-grained matrix of entries than has ever been seen before. For the first time all key issues and concepts in interpreting studies are brought together and covered systematically and in a structured and accessible format. With all entries alphabetically arranged, extensively cross-referenced and including suggestions for further reading, this text combines clarity with scholarly accuracy and depth, defining and discussing key terms in context to ensure maximum understanding and ease of use. Practical and unique, this Encyclopedia of Interpreting Studies presents a genuinely comprehensive overview of the fast growing and increasingly diverse field of interpreting studies.

    TOMASZ GRZEGORZ KORYBSKI, ELENA DAVITTI, Constantin Orăsan, SABINE BRAUN (2022)A Semi-Automated Live Interlingual Communication Workflow Featuring Intralingual Respeaking: Evaluation and Benchmarking
    Elena Davitti, Sergio Pasquandrea (2018)Integrating authentic data in dialogue interpreting education: A teaching unit proposal, In: inTRAlinea. Special Issue: Translation And Interpreting for Language Learners Department of Interpreting and Translation (DIT) of the University of Bologna, Italy

    In the last two decades, empirical research has shed light on the interactional dynamics of Dialogue Interpreting (DI). Nevertheless, it remains unclear how the results of such research can be effectively integrated in interpreter education. This paper outlines a semester long module, in which research on DI is employed for teaching purposes. During the module, students are introduced to relevant literature and exposed to different case studies of interpreter-mediated interaction, based on authentic data. The aim is to create an understanding of the interpreter ’s role and conduct in a variety of communicative situations, and help students identify the challenges that may arise in interpreter-mediated interaction. Implications for current codes of conduct are also discussed.

    E. Davitti (2019)Healthcare Interpreting, In: Mona Baker, Gabriela Saldanha (eds.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies Routledge
    Sabine Braun, Elena Davitti, Sara Dicerto (2018)Video-Mediated Interpreting in Legal Settings: Assessing the Implementation, In: J Napier, R Skinner, Sabine Braun (eds.), Here or there: research on interpreting via video linkpp. 144-179 Gallaudet

    This chapter reports the key findings of the European AVIDICUS 3 project,1 which focused on the use of video-mediated interpreting in legal settings across Europe. Whilst judicial and law enforcement authorities have turned to videoconferencing to minimise delays in legal proceedings, reduce costs and improve access to justice, research into the use of video links in legal proceedings has called for caution. Sossin and Yetnikoff (2007), for example, contend that the availability of financial resources for legal proceedings cannot be disentangled from the fairness of judicial decision-making. The Harvard Law School (2009: 1193) warns that, whilst the use of video links may eliminate delays, it may also reduce an individual’s “opportunity to be heard in a meaningful manner”. In proceedings that involve an interpreter, procedural fairness and “the opportunity to be heard in a meaningful manner” are closely linked to the quality of the interpretation. The use of video links in interpreter-mediated proceedings therefore requires a videoconferencing solution that provides optimal support for interpreting as a crucial prerequisite for achieving the ultimate goal, i.e. fairness of justice. Against this backdrop, the main aim of AVIDICUS 3 was to identify institutional processes and practices of implementing and using video links in legal proceedings and to assess them in terms of how they accommodate and support bilingual communication mediated through an interpreter. The focus was on spoken-language interpreting. The project examined 12 European jurisdictions (Belgium, Croatia, England and Wales, Finland, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Scotland, Spain and Sweden). An ethnographic approach was adopted to identify relevant practices, including site visits, in-depth and mostly in-situ interviews with over 100 representatives from different stakeholder groups, observations of real-life proceedings, and the analysis of a number of policy documents produced in the justice sector. The chapter summarises and systematises the findings from the jurisdictions included in this study. The assessment focuses on the use of videoconferencing in both national and cross-border proceedings, and covers different applications of videoconferencing in the legal system, including its use for links between courts and remote participants (e.g. witnesses, defendants in prison) and its use to access interpreters who work offsite (see Braun 2015; Skinner, Napier & Braun in this volume).

    Additional publications