Chapter One of Sign Language Interpreting continued...
bookcover In a discussion of pragmatic issues to be considered by translators, Hatim and Mason (1990) address such issues as illocutionary force of source and target texts—for example, the function of the text (to request, to demand, etc.) perhaps directly or indirectly—as well as structural features such as the regulation of turn-taking, or the use of pauses and intonation to hold or yield one's turn in a spoken conversation (Sacks, Schegloff, and Jefferson 1974), and the occurrence of adjacency pairs, which are two-part sequences that occur in conversations, as in greetings (e.g., "Hello" is followed by the response, "Hello"; or "How are you?" by "Fine" in English) (Schegloff and Sacks 1973). In a study of interpreters in legal settings, Berk-Seligson (1990) found that interpreters would sometimes change the pragmatic meaning of source utterances, for example, by using a different grammatical case in the interpretation from that used in the original. In some cases, this left interlocutors with two different perceptions of the interaction.

The presence of interpreters does more than influence interlocutors' perceptions of an interaction, however. Zimmer (1989) examined the pragmatic influence of an ASL-English interpreter by analyzing the audiotaped English portion of an interpreted interview. She found that the English portion of the discourse included longer pauses, limited back-channeling, and an unusually high frequency of fillers (apparently the result of participant discomfort with the long pauses). While these findings indicate that the presence of the interpreter influenced the structure of the interpreted interaction, Zimmer points out that the interlocutors' perceptions of one another might also be influenced by the unique features of the interpreted discourse. Thus, a sociolinguistic examination of the pragmatic features of interpreted encounters indicates that interpreters are not entirely neutral with regard to their influence on the perceptions of the interlocutors. In a study of turn-taking in an interpreted interaction, Roy finds that interpreters clearly influence the flow of the interaction itself.

Roy (1989a, 1993) examined the role of an ASL-English interpreter in the turn exchanges of an interpreted interaction between a university student and his professor. She found that during the overlapping dialogue the interpreter employed several strategies, including controlling the floor, retaining part of a message for later, and ignoring the overlap and interpreting neither of the utterances. She concluded that the interpreter is clearly an active participant in the interaction. Sociolinguistic analyses regarding pragmatic actions also reveal important empirically based information about interpreted interactions.

The factors considered by Hatim and Mason (1990) to be semiotic in nature include such issues as discourse genre, the texture of the discourse, and the relationship of a current text to prior texts. These features, as relatively intentional strategies (as opposed to dialect, for instance), are considered to be stylistic issues in translation. Winston (1993) provides an example of the importance of discourse texture in interpretation between ASL and English. In her study of the use of space in an ASL lecture, Winston identifies spatial strategies within the lecture that create cohesion within the text. For example, Winston describes how the lecturer creates maps in the space surrounding him and later refers to those spaces (for example, by pointing to them) without explicit reference. She indicates that interpreters must understand the cohesive devices of both languages in order to appropriately translate the meaning of a text. Clearly, sociolinguistic analyses of both interpretation and the discourse of the languages being interpreted are critical contributions to the understanding and evaluation of translated and interpreted texts.

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