Chapter One of Sign Language Interpreting continued...
banner In an examination of the impact of stylistic strategies selected by interpreters, Berk-Seligson (1990) found that court interpreters often translate fragmented source utterances into narrative renditions. In addition, she examined the impact of the inclusion or exclusion of politeness markers in interpretations presented to "mock" jurors and found that even among different groupings of jurors (based on mono- versus bilingual status), the perceptions of witnesses and attorneys were clearly influenced by the interpretations. In an earlier study of ASL-English interpretation, Cokely (1982) reported similar findings. He analyzed the perceptions of the target recipients of interpretations of a single lecturer, and found both distinctions and limitations in how ASL-English interpreters convey speaker affect. In an interactive analysis of spoken-spoken language interpreted interviews, Wadensjö (1992) examined the function of interpreters' choices. She found that when interpreters produced renditions (interpretations of others' utterances), they often altered the renditions for specific purposes. For example, one interpreter provided a rendition of an interviewee response regarding why he had moved from his home country, but omitted specific information about the dates. This information was not apparently relevant to the interviewer, who was interested only in the reasons for the move. Thus, situated analysis of omissions (what Wadensjö calls reduced renditions) is in keeping with interactive goals.

While sociolinguistic issues have been recognized as pertinent to the field of translation since long before the term sociolinguistics existed, the emergence of sociolinguistics as a field with its own theoretical frameworks and methodological practices has provided a means for the systematic investigation of sociocultural issues impacting translation and interpretation. Although much work remains to be done, one interesting phenomenon that is apparent from the sociolinguistic studies discussed here is that the interpreters under investigation have clearly influenced the interpreted encounters in which they work in all three areas identified by Hatim and Mason (1990): communicative, pragmatic, and semiotic. Yet, as Hatim and Mason point out, while some of these influences are inherent to the process of translation, others appear to be particularly significant to interpretation. Thus, while the processes of translation and interpreting have much in common, it is worth noting some of the differences that result from the different modes that translators and interpreters face in their work.

The Relevance of Mode

In discussion of the impact of working within different modes, Nida (1976) considers the written and oral mediums to have a significant impact on the form of the source and target messages. In addition to the written and spoken modes, there is yet a third medium to be addressed: signing. Not only can a distinction be made between translation and interpretation, but also between interpreting with spoken languages and signed languages.

It has been said that the prerequisites to good translation and interpretation are the same. Both require the understanding of the sense of an original utterance and its function within the context in which it occurs (Seleskovitch 1978). However, the amount of time allowed for the production of a rendition has a tremendous impact on the nature of these two distinct processes. For example, because translation conveys messages from and to the written medium, the translator can refer to the original at any time (Wilss 1982). Cokely has outlined the implications of this time factor as follows:

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