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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Signed Language Interpreting in Brazil
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Interpreters need to be economical and objective, and interpretation is often seen as a solitary, public, and solidary professional task (Famularo, 1999). It is solitary because the interpreter is the only one responsible for the decision-making process in terms of syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic choices. In other words, interpreters can be seen as artisans, joining their linguistic and cultural knowledge and their cognitive and affective attributes. As a cultural product, interpreters in body and/or vocal materialization are involved in a public task and publicly exposed. They are also solitary figures since, as social actors, they are able to move freely between two languages and cultures to obtain information from both and to serve as cultural mediators with deaf and nondeaf people, a fundamental element in this intercultural relation.

We stress that even though our small-scale study has elicited only few gender traits in the interpretations analyzed, we hope we have helped inspire interest in gender in sign language interpretation. Likewise, we hope that our study will engender future discussions on gender traits in the simultaneous translation and interpretation of Brazilian Sign Language within gender studies, deaf studies, and translation studies.

We believe that, by attaining greater visibility in academic circles, interpreters will also acquire greater notice as both professionals and researchers. Within translation studies, we also hope to have furthered discussions on translation and interpretation and on interpreters of Brazilian Sign Language. Although BSL has achieved official and legal status, at times it is still underrepresented in public discursive practices.

As Brazilian Sign Language (and indeed any language) is complex and offers an array of lexical and grammatical resources, some suggestions for further research on gender, sign language, and translation include the use of signaling space, facial and body movements, and syntactic choices.

We conclude by emphasizing that the investigation of gender traits in sign language interpretation is a multifaceted linguistic and sociocultural endeavor that deserves to be further pursued in academic circles.

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