Collaboration and innovation to explore sign language brokering experiences

by Jemina Napier

Click here to see this post in British Sign Language

Previous blogs have reported how I am conducting research on experiences of language brokering in the Deaf community, which looks at the communication support that both deaf and hearing PDFs (People from Deaf Families) give to their deaf parents to communicate with hearing people.

This is an under-researched area, I think mostly because of the taboos associated with kids ‘interpreting’ for their parents. Previous research has typically focussed on the negative experiences of hearing PDFs, the ‘conflict’ that arises for kids in taking on a language brokering role, without giving consideration to the deaf parents’ perspective or considering that deaf children (and adults) also broker for their deaf parents. So it is important to explore the positive and negative experiences from the perspective of all the people involved.

So I am working in collaboration with two organisations: CODA UK & Ireland and Deaf Parenting UK, to jointly offer a workshop for children and their deaf parents as part of the project.

The workshop will take place at the Rycote Centre, Parker Street Derby DE1 3HF on SUNDAY 29th MARCH 2015 from 10am-4.15pm.

Using innovative arts-based research and visual research methodologies, encompassing drawing and photo-response (visual elicitation) tasks, as well as vignette methodology, the day will enable participants to explore their experiences of sign language brokering. These innovative methodologies have been previously used to explore child language brokering in schools in the UK and Italy with children from migrant families using various spoken languages.

The day will involve an art workshop for kids (facilitated by me) and a discussion group for deaf parents, facilitated by Nicole Campbell who is Project Coordinator at Deaf Parenting UK.

The workshop is *free*, and lunch will be provided. Families will be offered a £20 gift card to cover travel expenses, and there will be prizes for the kids.

To register for the workshop, email: MARIE@CODAUKIRELAND.CO.UK

Deaf parents with deaf or hearing children are welcome. Maximum 20 places in each workshop, so register soon!

Registration deadline: 15th March 2015

For more information about the workshop content, you can send me a personal message through Facebook or email me at j.napier@hw.ac.uk

Call for Papers! 7th International Conference of Hispanic Linguistics @ Heriot-Watt

by Nicola Bermingham

This year, Heriot-Watt will be holding the 7th International Conference of Hispanic Linguistics (27th – 29th March 2015). The title for this year’s conference is Spanish in Contact – new times, new spaces and new speakers.

The conference will bring together scholars from around the world who are working with Spanish and languages in contact with Spanish such as Catalan, Galician and Basque as well as other language situations such as Latinos in the US where Spanish comes into contact with English and as such is in a subordinate position, migrant communities in other parts of the world where Spanish comes into contact with the host language, hybridized forms that emerge from such contact, issues around Spanish as a global language, and other indigenous languages in contact with Spanish such as Quechua.

Over the three days of the conference we will be exploring how cultural and linguistic changes brought about by globalisation and a changing political and economic landscape have impacted the ways in which we conceptualise the relationship between language and society in the twenty-first century. A new communicative order has emerged in which we find new types of speakers, new forms of language and new modes of communication. The conference theme addresses the challenges and opportunities that this new communicative order presents to researchers working with Spanish and situations of Spanish in contact in the twenty-first century.

Our three esteemed keynote speakers are Professor David Block (ICREA/Universitat de Lleida), Dr Jaine Beswick (University of Southampton) and Dr Joan Pujolar (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya). Professor Block has published extensively on a variety of topics including globalization, migration, multiculturalism, multilingualism, identity, narrative research and second language teaching and learning. Dr Beswick specialises in Spanish, Galician and Portuguese phonetic and phonological variation and change and migration studies. Dr Pujolar’s research focuses on how language use is mobilized in the construction of identities and its implications for access to symbolic and economic resources.

We welcome abstracts of no more than 300 words in length by no later that February 15th 2015. Abstracts should be sent to sis2015edinburgh@gmail.com as a word attachment containing the title of the paper and description of the proposed talk, including: the aims, methodology and main findings of the study upon which it is based, as well as a list of bibliographical references (Harvard system). Contact details (name, affiliation and postal / electronic address) should be included only in the body of the email, together with the title of the paper.  Notification of acceptance will by 1st March 2015.

We look forward to receiving your abstracts!

How do you teach note-taking for consecutive interpreting?

It’s one of those ‘how long is a piece of string’ questions. Consecutive interpreting involves listening to a speech delivered in one language in front of an international audience, taking notes and then giving the same speech in another language, making sure it is as close to the original as possible in terms of content, delivery and style. The activity is taught and practised through memory exercises, listening comprehension, summarising, abstracting and note-taking.

There is some very useful literature on note-taking for consecutive interpreting aimed both at trainee interpreters and at interpreter trainers. The most frequently cited works are Rozan, J.F. (1956) Note-taking in Consecutive Interpreting; Jones, R. (2002): Conference interpreting explained; Gillies, A. (2005): Note-taking for consecutive interpreting. A review of these key works by Michelle Hof can be found here.

Even though note-taking constitutes an integral part of the interpreting process, it may detract interpreters from active listening. This means that the note-taking task involves filtering and ruthless selection, as well as translation, so that the speech can be then delivered in another language. Because of the bilingual nature of the task, shorthand would not be effective in helping to reproduce the original speech verbatim and thus eschew the process of filtering, as shorthand is based on standardised symbols of sounds, not meaning (Valencia, 2013: 11-12).

More importantly, the role of interpreters’ notes should be to “relieve memory” (Jones, 2002: 42) and to outsource tasks that cannot be performed by memory alone. In other words, notes should be an aide-memoir, not a schematic representation of the entirety of the speech. Because of the mutual dependence of memory and notes and the highly contingent nature of memory, notes are highly personalised to the extent that “no two interpreters will ever produce an identical set of notes” (Gillies, 2005: 10) for the same speech. At the same time, the majority of speeches tend to be formulaic to the extent that they “present the interpreter with a limited range of the same problems, for which effective solutions have already been worked out and are applied by many, many interpreters” (ibid.). This means that despite the contingent and subjective nature of notes, there exist basic principles of note-taking in consecutive interpreting that can be taught (Valencia, 2013: 14).

Despite this, there is no one-size-fits-all note-taking system, which poses a particular challenge for learning and teaching. The basic principles mentioned abover are supposed to become “internalised” (Gillies, 2005: 10) and ultimately individualised to follow a personal style as well as the requirements of any given speech, speaker or setting. This is easier said than done.

The current learning experience involves teaching students some basic note-taking symbols and abbreviations of terms that occur in most speeches, as well as strategies in noting down numbers, links, tense and how to separate ideas. Learners practise interpreting speeches based on no notes, minimal notes, only symbols, only numbers etc. They are also encouraged to share their notes to see examples of different note-taking styles and even to try to reproduce the original speech based on other people’s notes. However, they do not get an insight into how different styles of notes are produced – how quickly the interpreter takes notes, how much of a time lag there is in producing these notes, how selection of information takes place, which language is chosen for note-taking etc. Class time is too limited for carrying out these activities and for helping learners develop the creativity required to assimilate the techniques taught and make them their own.

Maybe uploading pre-recorded videos of real-time note-taking on a virtual learning environment such as Blackboard would be useful for learner practice. The videos would not be prescriptive, but they are meant to trigger reflection and generate ideas. It would save class time and create the space necessary for students to be creative, experiment and develop a personal note-taking style. It would also offer an insight into the professional world by demonstrating different types of real-time note-taking. The opportunity for reflection is important, as students can go back and deconstruct the process while exploring and developing their own efficient system. In this way, they are encouraged to be “active makers and shapers of their own learning” (JISC, 2009: 51).

It takes months, even years of experience and practice for interpreters to develop their own efficient, tried and tested system of note-taking for consecutive interpreting. Pre-recorded note-taking videos may enhance the learning experience through experiential and authentic learning that helps to demonstrate how memory and note-taking work together in producing a semantically accurate and fluent speech in the target language. It would be useful as a follow-up for learners to upload videos of their own note-taking and share with their colleagues their own reflective process, justify their selection choices, symbols, techniques etc. A wiki for sharing ideas and practice material could then be developed.   Class time and setting are simply too limited for such a task.

Sign Language Interpreting on Chinese television: Some progress and much to expect

by Xiao Zhao

Xiao post

From November 15th, 2014, Qixia television station in Nanjing, Jiangsu province started to provide sign language interpreting in the weekly news programme Xiao Rui Shuo Xin Wen (Xiao Rui (name of the hearing news presenter) Presents the News). The programme received immediate applause from the deaf community all over the country and the academia. There are a few reasons for this.

To start with, the interpreter, Ms Dai Manli (name in Chinese order), is Deaf. Although in the past, there were deaf interpreters on television occasionally, this is the first time that the interpreter was encouraged officially to use natural Chinese Sign Language with clear facial expressions as opposed to the past where interpreters were required to wear a smile all the time and use signed Chinese, which is an imposed sign system based on written Chinese syntax with a lot of signs created on the basis of Chinese characters, very unpopular amongst the deaf Chinese community.

Moreover, this particular programme, unlike many other programmes with SLI, takes into consideration the feedback from the local deaf community. For example, when first broadcast, the size of the interpreter screen was as small as it was in the past, which was not easy to watch for deaf audience. After taking into consideration the feedback, the TV station enlarged the interpreter frame to its current size in the second week. Indeed, the current size is far from ideal if compared with that of the SLI frame in BBC news, but it is still regarded as a positive sign by the audience.

Last but not the least, in order to reach a wider audience in China, Qixia TV station edits a special version of the programme and publishes it on its Wechat account (similar to Facebook) and on mainstream video websites. As a result, deaf people in other cities in China can easily access it on the web.

Almost at the same time, Suzhou TV station, also in Jiangsu province, invited two deaf people to work as interpreters to try out their SL interpreted news programme. These two programmes are especially valuable in the context of nationwide downplay of natural CSL in special education schools and TV stations. We hope that more TV stations and, more importantly, more government leaders will follow the lead and provide quality service to deaf Chinese citizens soon.