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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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The complexity of the presentation is indicated by the arrows that point to and from the concepts of positive and negative, to and from the reactions (either positive or negative), and to and from each story. This presentation is not a straightforward recounting of cause and effect nor of chronological events nor of a logical process. Rather, the presenter intertwines the ideas of positive and negative thoughts with their causes and with each person’s approach to the thoughts and the causes. Throughout the presentation, she includes stories to expand on the interconnections of all these ideas. (One fascinating study would be to analyze the discourse strategies used by the interpreters and transliterators to reflect this interconnected weaving of ideas.)

From this map, we prepared a sequential map of the source text (p. 36, Steps 2 and 3) in the discourse mapping process. Then, we began a listing of the salient linguistic and prosodic strategies and features of the English in the source text.[2] This list provided some initial direction for our analysis of the target texts. For this chapter, we narrowed the analysis to the strategies and features used to indicate major topic boundaries, which are discussed in the section titled “Data Choice and Approach to Analysis” section.

a n a l y s i s   o f   t a r g e t   t e x t s

After completing the analysis of the source text, we identified the sections of each interpretation and transliteration that corresponded dynamically with the source; in other words, we identified where the interpreter did or did not indicate the major topic boundaries that we had identified in the source text. We analyzed for similar discourse function—not for similar discourse feature. As with any text comprehension exercise, we do not claim that the boundaries we identified are the only, or the “right,” boundaries. Rather, they are boundaries that we identified as places where we understood a shift to occur in the source and where we predicted some type of boundary marking in the targets.

We noted whether each interpreter and transliterator produced major boundary markings at these predicted places and, if so, which discourse strategies and features they used. We also noted whether and where they used these same strategies in places that we had not identified. We further analyzed whether these additional strategies were used at other possible boundaries or were used for other purposes.

From this groundwork, we compared the three target interpretations for inter-interpreter similarities and differences, and we compared the three target transliterations for the same purpose. We also compared the interpretation and the transliteration of each person to see the similarities and differences that occurred. In the next section, we report the specific information from the analysis. The implications of these comparisons are presented in the final section of this chapter.


In this section, we describe the findings for the target texts produced by each interpreter (1, 2, and 3), first, from the interpretation produced and, then, from the transliteration produced.

2. Prosodic features were implied in this process; we have made it a much more explicit step in this research..
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