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American Annals of the Deaf

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Toward a Deaf Translation Norm

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Within Web/narrowcast/broadcast translation/interpretation, this functional notion of equivalence is useful as the audience is not present. The T/Is must make judgments about who will be watching and how they will render the SL into the TL to achieve functional equivalence for that audience. This functional equivalence implies that for a different, constructed pragmatic other, the SL will be rendered differently into the TL.

Gutt (2000, 377) discussed equivalence in terms of “faithfulness.” Here the notion does not rely upon equivalence with respect to either the SL or the TL. Instead, Gutt uses RT to examine the goal of faithfulness to the intentionality of central premises while re-writing or representing these notions in pragmatically appropriate renderings of the TL. Gutt (in Pöchhacker and Shlesinger 2002, 390) cites Namy.

When the French Polytechnicien, addressing his American counterpart, says: “Quelle est la proportion de main d’oeuvre indirecte que vous appliquez à l’entretien du capital installé?” should the interpreter say “What is the proportion of indirect labor you apply to the maintenance of the fixed capital?” or should he say, “How many people do you employ to keep the place clean and maintain the equipment?”
He goes on to explain when listening to an interpretation, the audience “needs to be able to recover the intended meaning instantly.” The motivation being to ensure the TL utterance is optimally relevant and therefore requires the least amount of effort from the audience for comprehension.

To represent intentionality requires both competence in the pragmatics of the language and cultural competence. Cultural competence also manifests itself in the contextual assumptions at play, including the contextual assumptions the T/Is use to construct the pragmatic other they have readily available within the shared cognitive environment. In this study, these assumptions are made when viewing the language (via autocue) and video footage at the time of the rendering of the SL into the TL.

As described in detail later, the Deaf community has some level of competence in English as well as BSL. If the T/Is ascribe some level of bilingualism to the audience, this will then be used to judge whether an apparent surface-form equivalence might meet functional equivalence, as long as linguistic (polysemically appropriate rendering) and pragmatic faithfulness are also manifest in the surface form. Consider the following example.

English: a green expert

BSL: person-cl ix green expert

If the audience were aware of environmentalists being called “greens,” this would be sufficient information for the audience to understand the BSL without excessive cognitive effort. If not, then this could fail to be functionally equivalent.

Pragmatics and Relevance Theory

Pragmatics is the study of language in use and how people understand language in different contexts. Aspects of pragmatics include analysis of conversation (Grice 1981; 1978; 1975), speech act theory (Searle 1979; Austin 1962) and implicature and explicature (Carston 2002; Blakemore 1992). Pragmatic theory also examines the interaction between the inference system and the linguistic code used to understand direct and indirect meanings of language (Sperber and Wilson 1995, 1986). Although several of these aspects are important to this study, RT, a cognitive theory of pragmatics, gives insights into equivalence.

When . . . interconnected new and old items of information are used together as premises in an inference process, further new information can be derived: information which could not have been inferred without this combination of old and new premises. When the processing of new information gives rise to such a multiplication effect, we call it relevant. The greater the multiplication effect, the greater the relevance. (Sperber and Wilson 1995, 48)
RT enables the examination of how information is processed by T/Is from one language into another. The interpreted language shows the types of information the T/Is find relevant, through their representation of the SL in the TL, and we are able to look at the types of transfers the T/Is make with respect to the SL. The following section reviews the different models proposed to explain how people understand language in context, including RT and ideas of enrichment and impoverishment. Finally, the section shows how RT has been applied to translation in the works of Gutt (1991), Hickey (1998), and Sequeiros (2002, 1998).
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