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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Translation, Sociolinguistic, and
Consumer Issues in Interpreting

Melanie Metzger and
Earl Fleetwood, Editors

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View the list of contributors.
Read chapter two.
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The Third Volume in the Studies in Interpretation Series

From the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education

This volume is the third in a series on sign language interpreting. The previous two volumes have dealt with emerging research on interpretation and the challenges faced by interpreters. In this book, the authors explore three sets of considerations for interpreters: (a) translation considerations, (b) sociolinguistic considerations, and (c) consumer considerations.

Each of the three parts of the book is comprised of two chapters: the first chapter in Part 1 is an exploration of how to incorporate English idioms into a signed language interpretation. The unique challenge for signed language interpreters identified by Santiago and Barrick is that while there is a “rich assortment” of idioms in English, there are relatively few in signed languages (American Sign Language in this context), which creates difficulties in achieving equivalence in meaning and form when interpreting these “idiosyncratic” elements of language.

The second chapter of Part 1 engages in an intriguing discussion of how interpreters can maintain impartiality in a higher education classroom in which semantics and pragmatics are introduced. The theoretical viewpoint of Leeson and Foley-Cave focuses on the linguistic decision-making processes interpreters engage in and the importance of background knowledge of the topic and the presenter.

Part 2 begins with an examination of code switching in voice interpretations of Filipino Sign Language. Martinez provides a fascinating description of the language situation of the Philippines. The second chapter outlines challenges for interpreters in becoming conscious of the social stereotypes that they may harbor. Roush also aims to deconstruct the stereotype that members of the signing Deaf community are direct or blunt.

The first chapter of Part 3 outlines research into Deaf consumer attitudes and perceptions of signed language interpreters. The issues explored by Napier and Rohan include level of choice of interpreter (and effect on comprehension and comfort), likes and dislikes in regard to interpreter skills, interpreter behavior and overall satisfaction with interpreter performance. The final chapter by Frasu is a report of an investigation of the potential confusion that may arise from attempts to incorporate visual aids into signed language interpretations (particularly when the spatial orientation established in the interpretation does not match that of the visual aid).

This volume has an international flavor with contributions from Ireland, Australia, Philippines, as well as the United States. There is also a range of research methods used in each of the studies, including observation, ethnographic interviews, diaries, and focus group discussions. Of particular note is the inclusion of Deaf relay interpreters in one of the studies (Chapter 1) and explorations of Deaf consumers’ perspectives (Chapter 5).

As has been the case with the previous two volumes, Translation, Sociolinguistic, and Consumer Issues in Interpreting makes a valuable contribution to the field of sign language interpreting. This book gives the reader a broader understanding of the minefield of considerations, analyses, and decisions that interpreters negotiate each day, if not at each

The book is strongly based on research data, rather than being solely theoretical. I recommend it to interpreters, students of interpreting, and anyone with an interest in the process and practice of signed language

Melanie Metzger is Professor and Chair, Department of Interpretation, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC.

Earl Fleetwood is a staff interpreter with Sign Language Associates, Inc., and an adjunct instructor in Gallaudet University’s Master of Arts in Interpretation program.

ISBN 978-1-56368-360-2, ISSN 1545-7613, 6 x 9 casebound, 240 pages, tables, figures, references, index


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