Gallaudet University Press

12:1 Friday, January 29, 2010

From Dualism to Pluralism

A New Volume Examines the Challenges of Interpreters Mediating
Across Multiplex Combinations of Culture and Language

“Linguistic proof that signed languages are distinct from spoken languages,” explain Rachel Locker McKee and Jeffrey Davis, editors of Interpreting in Multilingual, Multicultural Contexts, “has supported a narrative of contrast between Deaf cultural identity and social norms and those of hearing people. In turn, the sign language interpreting profession has tended to characterize consumers and languages in a distinction as Deaf or hearing, at times perhaps implying that these social categories are homogeneous, mutually exclusive, and all-encompassing primary identities. While the Deaf-hearing contrast is obviously central in defining the our work, this dualism potentially dulls our perception of the multiplicity and fluidity of identities, allegiances, and language resources that Deaf and hearing participants (and interpreters) bring to interpreted interactions.” The seventh volume in the Studies in Interpretation Series features 19 international studies that probe the complex nature of interpreted interaction involving Deaf and hearing people of diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

“In many respects,” note McKee and Davis, “the fundamental challenge of interpreting in multiethnic contexts is like that in any interpreting situation: to bridge a gap of linguistic and cultural expression between hearing and Deaf people who need to communicate with each other, while managing the logistics of bimodal communication. At the same time, there are particular contextual issues for interpreters in multilingual/multiethnic situations relating to cultural assumptions about relationships and roles within the interaction, differences in power, the impact of participants’ social identities and alliances, interpreter training and competence, and negotiating teamwork. This volume particularly addresses the experience of interpreters in those ‘wide gap’ situations, in order to identify challenges, strategies and consequences, and to stimulate consideration of how this kind of work abides with more ‘mainstream’ models of practice.”

Read more about this trenchant collection in the editors’ introduction, and order Interpreting in Multilingual, Multicultural Contexts now for a 20% savings off the regular price. For online orders, type “JAN2010” in the box labeled “use promo code” located next to the “checkout” button, or you can order by mail.

Deaf Lives in Contrast: Two Women’s Stories, the eigth volume in the Deaf Lives series, features the story of Mary V. Rivers of DeQuincy, LA raising a deaf child in the 50s and 60s and Dvora Shurman describing her life as a hearing child of deaf parents in Chicago during the 30s and 40s. In its current issue, the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education published a glowing review of Deaf Lives in Contrast, stating, in part: “In reading this book, one can sense the pain, frustration, and struggles that Mary experienced as a parent of a deaf child. Mary has shown that the reason for Clay’s success in life was due to her ongoing involvement, unconditional love, acceptance of his deafness, and welcoming herself into Clay’s silent world by using sign language. When two people can communicate freely, it takes away the shame about the person’s deafness and makes the silent world a wonder for hearing people. Through Dvora’s struggle to understand her parents’ deaf world, language, and shame, and the discovery of her family’s religious background and deaf culture, she found herself to be the bridge between both worlds. This helped her to develop a better appreciation of her own heritage as a daughter of Deaf parents. This book is a must read for anyone who grew up in a Deaf family or has a relationship with someone who is a child of deaf adults or grandparents.” Read more about Mary V. Rivers and Dvora Shurman, and order Deaf Lives in Contrast.

In a recent issue of The Sign Language Translator and Interpreter, the reviewer notes that “The Deaf History Reader [edited by John Vickrey Van Cleve] is a collection of related essays on historical research that brings to light past Deaf experiences in the USA. It covers a variety of issues of relevance to those interested in Deaf history and Deaf studies, but has some linking themes to other disciplines, such as education, politics or sociology. [T]he collection of articles is held together by being centered on a specific historical period, although there is a vast diversity in the topics covered. After reading the detailed accounts of Deaf history, the reader is rewarded with a breadth of knowledge in issues that are as relevant to the Deaf world today as they were over 100 years ago.” Read more about this rich history in chapter one, Genesis of a Community: The American Deaf Experience in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, and order here.

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