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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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Enrichment and Impoverishment

Sequeiros (2002) analyzes both pragmatic additions enriching the TL and pragmatic omissions impoverishing the TL with respect to the SL text. Sequeiros defines enrichment as, “A process of completion of the logical form (i.e. the semantic representation encoded by the utterance) whose aim is to arrive at the proposition expressed, which may or may not be one of the set of thoughts explicitly communicated by the utterance” (2002, 1070). And he defines impoverishment as, “given a particular proposition (i.e., thought) expressed by an L1 (Language 1) utterance, the linguistic rendering in L2 (Language 2) may encode less than the L1 as a result of a process which will be called interlingual impoverishment” (2002, 1070).

Initially it is useful to look at intralingual examples, that is examples of the process of the completion of a logical form to arrive at the propositional form within a language. Wilson and Sperber’s (1993, 293) notion is that, “If the linguistically encoded information is too vague, or too incomplete, to yield an adequately relevant interpretation, it will be enriched using immediately accessible contextual assumptions, to the point where it is relevant enough.”

Sequeiros uses the idea to further expand upon this idea of pragmatic enrichment. We know not all information is linguistically encoded, for example in a conversation the speakers could say,

Speaker A: Will Aoife be long?

Speaker B: She is with Richard.

Here the logical form of the utterance made by Speaker B is not sufficient to answer Speaker A’s question. If however, the situation is such that Speakers A and B know Aoife is a student, Richard is her tutor, and Richard only ever spends a short time with his tutees, then Speaker A can use this information to make a relevant interpretation of the logical form to create the propositional form. The T/I then has to decide how to represent the enriched logical form (the propositional form) in the TL to be relevant to the audience as the speaker intended. If we now look at interlingual enrichment (and impoverishment) then according to Sequeiros, “An utterance is a case of interlingual enrichment if its semantic representation is the intended enrichment of the semantic representation of an utterance from another language” (2002, 1078). In other words, if the translator explicates the TL on the lines of the full propositional form rather than following the logical form this would be a case of interlingual enrichment. Similarly if the TL became less implicit this would also be an example of interlingual impoverishment. Sequeiros (2002, 1077) states,
The logical possibilities between the two languages seem to allow four different cases as regards explicitness/implicitness:

A   Translation more explicit because of (enrichment):
       i.  Linguistic differences between two languages
       ii. A choice of the translator on some other grounds

B   Translation less explicit because of (impoverishment):
       i.  Linguistic differences between two languages
       ii. A choice of the translator on some other grounds

Sequeiros further details four areas of enrichment: temporal enrichment, thematic enrichment (agent, source, and possessor), enrichment based on discourse relations, and enrichment based on implicatures. These four areas of enrichment build on his previous work on impoverishment (Sequeiros 1998) and give a useful taxonomy of the types of pragmatic shifts that may occur in translation and can be used to compare the types of shifts the two groups of T/Is perform.

The temporal shifts afford the TL utterance an additional time unit, which can be understood to have been intended in the SL. For example, “now” can mean this second, or this minute, or this hour, or this afternoon, or today, etc. When the translation is explicated, it pragmatically enriches the TL so the TL is closer to the intended propositional form of the utterance than the logical form of the SL. An example:

d. I HAVE HAD LUNCH [TODAY] (Sequeiros 2002, 1072)
This would be the same as BEEN LUNCH in BSL, where the addressee explicates the temporal context of the utterance.
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