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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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From Topic Boundaries to Omission: New Research on Interpretation
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One interesting feature in I-1 was the “got it?” feature (this same strategy is described and used also in I-2.). This interpreting strategy functions quite clearly as a topic boundary. Lines 37–39 conclude the description of three bricklayers’ mindsets, and line 40 presents an explanation (see Figure 6.4). At the end of line 39, an identified topic boundary is marked with the “got it?” strategy. Marking the boundary is the filled pause, consisting of the sign open hands, with eye gaze straight ahead and brows up. After this pause, the interpreter moves on to the next sign.

37 How we experience our lifes work,
38 and indeed our lives,
39 is to a great degree a function of what we tell ourselves.

photo 6.7a                                                  photo 6.7b

40 You see, the man laying bricks performs the very same task as the man who was building a beautiful cathedral.

figure 6.4

t r a n s l i t e r a t  i o n   1 (T-1)

Transliteration 1 (T-1) showed a marked pattern of producing the handclasp at 16 of the 20 identified topic boundaries, more than either of the other two transliterations. In addition, 26 additional handclasps occurred at places throughout the text that we had not originally identified as topic boundaries. These occurrences will require further analysis, but one hypothesis is that they mark an emphatic boundary in this transliteration. An example of this usage occurs from line 51 to line 77 (see Figure 6.5), where the presenter offers numerous examples of negative questions and then offers examples of positive questions that could replace the negative ones.

In those five lines, the interpreter produces a handclasp five times. She produces a brief handclasp at the end of line 50 (identified topic boundary), a slight handclasp in the middle of line 51 (after “For example”) and then at the end of lines 53, 54, and 55 (not identified topic boundaries).

This pattern appears again later in the text when another series of possible questions is presented. The transliterator again produces five handclasp in 10 lines. This pattern definitely requires further analysis. One hypothesis is that this handclasp strategy, which is very marked, is used to mark the rhetorical emphasis created by the presenter to emphasize her point through the use of repeated “what” questions.

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