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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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As with any choice of data, our data also presented some drawbacks and disadvantages. First, the source text presentation was a “constructed” presentation. It was a presentation made specifically for the production of the target texts rather than a presentation that was completely “naturally produced.” This characteristic adds some sense of unreality to the source. We noted that, consequently, (a) the source contained almost no speaker repairs and (b) the rate of presentation is slower than might normally be expected in a live presentation. The presentation is much more similar to an inspirational speech at a graduation, a sermon in a religious setting, or a well-prepared and often-presented informational workshop.

The second drawback was that the interpreters had more preparation than might be expected in many situations. In many live presentations, a text is not available until the last minute or, more commonly, not at all. However, formal presentations are often written or presented; in cases such as these, the interpreter may have the opportunity to prepare. We decided that the amount of preparation for the interpreters was not unduly more than the amount for an interpreter who is working with a presenter he or she knows well and for whom he or she regularly interprets on the same topic.

Finally, the interpreters presented one target after the other. In other words, each person first produced the interpretation and then the transliteration or vice versa. Depending on whether the transliteration or the interpretation was done first, the production of the second target text might be influenced. With these benefits and limitations in mind, we began the analysis of the source text first, then proceeded to the target texts.

Approach to Analysis

Using steps from a discourse mapping process outlined in Winston and Monikowski (2000), we approached this research as a comparison of linguistic and discourse features that were used by a presenter to reflect her intended meaning. This comparison extended to the linguistic and discourse strategies and features that are subsequently used by interpreters and transliterators in their efforts to produce dynamically equivalent target texts.

a n a l y s i s   o f   t h e   s o u r c e   t e x t

The source text is a presentation that seeks to inspire the audience to accept responsibility for the positive or negative beliefs that motivate their lives and actions. These positive and negative beliefs are caused by fear and stem from expectations; each person has the opportunity to choose the perspective that will motivate his or her future choices and decisions. The presenter uses stories to illustrate her points. A transcription of the spoken-English text is found in Appendix 6.A.

In an earlier publication, we analyzed the source text in a discussion of discourse mapping (Winston & Monikowski, 2000, p. 54). As we revisited the original map for this analysis, we added two elements. First, we added the speaker’s goals and sources, and second, we added the concept of expectations to the concept of fear. The revised map is shown in Figure 6.1.


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