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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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An example of a filled pause occurring at one of our predicted boundaries happens between lines 115 and 116 in the transcript (see Figure 6.7) where the question of what to do about fear is reintroduced. Interpreter 2 holds the last sign, open hands, with eye gaze straight ahead.

115 and to stop us from living fully or realizing our dreams.

photo 6.14

116 Well, whats the alternative?

figure 6.7

The “got it?” feature form of a filled pause appears at three identified topic boundaries. The last sign tends to be held (some holds are a bit longer than others), the head is tilted forward and up, and the brows are raised with eye gaze straight ahead. The interpreter’s strategy appears to be one of making the implicit meaning from the speaker more explicit rather than presenting a question directly from the interpreter to the watcher. It functions as a marked topic boundary in this interpretation. The “got it?” feature also occurs in three other places in Interpreter 2’s work, places where we did not anticipate topic boundaries. Although in-depth analysis of these events is beyond the scope of this chapter, these three additional productions do appear to mark other, perhaps subtopic, boundaries.

t r a n s l i t e r a t  i o n   2 (T-2)

Of the 20 major topic boundaries we identified, only two were clearly marked by extralinguistic hand clasps. Eight boundaries were marked with a short filled pause, showing a slightly longer final hold on either the last sign or the last fingerspelled letter of the chunk. Ten identified boundaries were not marked; however, note that we did not analyze for co-occurring sign choices, word order, or numerous other possibilities for marking a boundary. Therefore, one cannot prudently assume that the boundaries were not marked. Further investigation is needed.

Of the eight filled holds that mark our predicted boundaries, one example—this one with the last letter of a fingerspelled word held—occurs at the end of line 128 (see Figure 6.8). The presenter said, “We could make progressive approximations towards expanding our comfort zone.” Transliterator 2 signed comfort and then fingerspelled #zones and clearly held the final s. The s was held for approximately 12 frames whereas the hold on z was held for approximately 4 frames, and the holds on o, n, and e lasted for approximately 1 frame each.

128 We could make progressive approximations towards expanding our comfort zone.

photo 6.15

129 You can begin by imagining the worst possible consequences.

figure 6.8

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