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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Toward a Deaf Translation Norm

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This type of enrichment could be grammatically obligatory, as the TL has to encode a less ambiguous lexical item than the SL. The news headline where the English uses the word balloon, meaning hot air balloon, and the Deaf T/I translates this as hot-air-balloon provides another example. No superordinate sign covers these two English contexts, which can be understood to mean either hot air balloon or “party” balloon depending on contextual assumptions. The RT notion of relevance is assessed in terms of cognitive effects and processing effort.
1. Relevance of an input to an individual
    a. Other things being equal, the greater the positive cognitive effects achieved by processing an input, the
         greater the relevance of the input to the individual at that time.
     b. Other things being equal, the greater the processing effort expended, the lower the relevance of the input
         to the individual at that time. (Wilson and Sperber 2002, 252)
If the goal of the T/I is to maximize the TL relevance for the target audience, then the TL will be constructed in such a way that it is relevant to the audience rather than just seeming to be relevant to the audience. Optimal relevance then becomes,
An ostensive stimulus is optimally relevant to an audience if [if and only if]:
      a. It is relevant enough to be worth the audience’s processing effort;
      b. It is the most relevant one compatible with communicator’s abilities and preferences. (Wilson and
          Sperber 2002, 256)
In relevance terms, ease of understanding is viewed within a framework such that comprehension is described as,
Relevance-theoretic comprehension procedure
      a. Follow a path of least effort in computing cognitive effects: Test interpretive hypotheses
          (disambiguation, reference resolutions, implicatures, etc.) in order of accessibility.
      b. Stop when your expectations of relevance are satisfied. (Wilson and Sperber 2002, 259)
In the example when hot-air-balloon is used to translate the word balloon, the BSL is a translation of the pragmatically enriched form (the fully intended propositional form). The T/I’s motivation for this translation comes from the fact that BSL specifically encodes a difference between “blow-up balloon” and “hot air balloon,” but the consequence is that the audience requires less cognitive effort to understand the TL; there is no need to disambiguate the term balloon since the most explicit semantic representation is encoded linguistically. There remains a need to resolve the reference, that is, which hot air balloon is being referred to, and this is where an interaction occurs between either the SL or the TL and the information being shown on the screen.

The final category, pragmatic shift based on implicatures, differs from those described above. Sequeiros notes, “This is a case where the translator has included an implication of the original text in the target text thereby translating not only what was said but also what was implied” (2001, 1086). These translation shifts extend beyond mere enrichment of the original. Sequeiros sees this as unacceptable—not because what is linguistically encoded in the TL is more narrowly specified in the propositional form than the SL, but because of explicating an implicature when the level of possible enrichment moves away from the intended propositional form.

Happily for the self-command
of both Heyward and Munro
they knew not the meaning of
the wild sounds they heard.
Afortunadamenta para
Munro, y Heyward,
no entendían el signifi cado de
los salvajes gritos que oían,
pues de lo contrario dificilmente
huberan podidio dominar su
renovado dolor.

(Cooper, The Last Mohican)
The translator has added an implication of the first clause to the Spanish text . . . which was not present in the original version.

Pues de lo contrario difícilmente hubieran podido dominar su renovado dolor.

Since otherwise they would hardly have been able to control their renewed suffering.

This translation goes beyond a mere enrichment of the original. (Sequeiros 2002, 1086)


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