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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Language and the Law in Deaf Communities

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The specific facial, head, and body postures necessary for articulating each of these nonmanual signals were previously described.

The interpreted output was analyzed separately for each of the syntactic nonmanual signals. For example, an interpreted discourse would be analyzed repeatedly and solely for the occurrence of affirmation before it would be analyzed for another syntactic nonmanual signal.

One point relevant to the analysis of syntactic nonmanual signals deserves mention. Many of the nonmanual signals require that the requisite postures of the face, head, or upper body be maintained for an entire clause or sentence. Thus, a syntactic nonmanual signal must be articulated correctly both in terms of facial posture and duration. Both had to be present to be counted as an occurrence of a nonmanual signal. Aborted attempts at forming a syntactic signal were not counted.

Findings and Discussion

The analysis of both the number of lexical items and the frequency of syntactic nonmanual signals revealed dramatic similarities among interpreters of the same skill level (within the group) and dramatic differences between interpreters of different skill levels (between groups).

n u m b e r  o f  l e x i c a l  i t e m s  p r o d u c e d

With regard to the number of lexical items signed, the beginner interpreters signed an average of only four lexical items during the entire reading of the Miranda warning. The intermediate interpreters produced more than nine-fold the number of lexical items for the same stretch of discourse, averaging thirty-eight lexical items. The advanced interpreters produced an average of fifty-two lexical items, a 73 percent increase over the intermediates and a thirteen-fold increase over the beginners.

Equally striking is the consistency within each group. The range of lexical items produced by the subjects of each group was extremely narrow: The beginner group ranged between two and seven lexical items, intermediates ranged between thirty-five and thirty-nine, and advanced interpreters ranged between forty-nine and fifty-five.

The number of lexical items for each interpreter and the average for each group are displayed in table 1.

Table 1 illustrates that the number of lexical items produced increased dramatically as interpreting skill level increased for both the Miranda warning and the interrogation. The intermediate group average of 117 was approximately a four-fold increase over the beginner interpretersí group average of 31. The advanced interpretersí group average of 168.6 was over a five-fold increase over the beginners and a nearly 70 percent increase over the intermediates. And again, there was remarkable consistency within each group.

These findings demonstrate dramatic differences in lexical output based on interpreter skill level. During the Miranda warning and the interrogation, advanced interpreters produced nine times and five times more words respectively than did their beginner counterparts. Moreover, the advanced interpreters produced 70 percent and 73 percent more meaning than even the intermediate interpreters. I would suggest that omitting 70 to 73 percent of the words contained in either the Miranda warning or the interrogation might render them incomprehensible to the Deaf defendant.


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