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А Speech Event Called Interpreting

The terminology Hymes used to describe social scenes where language is central is still current (e. g. Schiffrin 1994); thus, І will also use this terminology to refer to and name interpreted events. Because the linguistics means must combine with the social framework, Hymes begins with the now customary expression (to anthropologists, ethnographers, and sociolinguists) speech community, which he defines as “а community sharing rules for the conduct and interpretation of speech, and rules for the interpretation of а least one linguistic variety” (1972: 54).

Each primary participant in an interpreted meeting is а member of one or more speech communities, and interpreters must be members of at least the two speech communities represented by the primary participants, recognizing that not every aspect of а community’s cultural assumptions and beliefs are necessarily shared by each member. Within speech communities are communicative “units” that are “in some recognizable way bounded or integral” (1972: 56).

The largest such unit is the speech situation: the social occasion in which speech may occur (e. g., meals, parties, etc. ). Although speech situations provide а setting where speech might, or might not occur, they are also social occasions where more than speech might take place. The next unit is speech event: “activities or aspects of activities that are directly governed by rules or norms of speech” (1972: 56). Although there is still а smaller unit, а speech act, the speech event unit is important in defining the units of interpreted speech events. Speech events are also discourse events, and many of our “typical” discourse events are also interpreted.

Broadly speaking, interpretation shares most of the characteristics of ordinary discourse situations and events with one extraordinary exception: the two primary speakers’ do not have а common language. Any meeting between these two speakers, however, can be conducted only according to one speech community’s rules and norms. It is generally true that speakers of а minority language typically go to speakers of а majority language for some kind of service, thus, it is this speech community’s norms that are typically followed.

For example, in the United States, Spanish-speaking patients go to see American English-speaking doctors and become participants in the speech event of а medical exam which is conducted according to standard American cultural “ways of speaking” in а medical exam. For many non-English-speaking people, it is possible that medical practices and services are not conducted in the same manner and with the same expectations as American exams. So even with experience, new expectations could come to light during ongoing visits.

Typically, discourse events of the majority culture are only slightly familiar to speakers of а minority language or, even if familiar, is still а mystery in terms of acting “appropriately. ” The point here is that, typically, an interpreter and two speakers are participating in а speech or discourse event of one speech community such that one participant does not speak the majority language and also may not know how to contend with variation in the event.

In any one society the range of speech situations is extensive and the range of speech events within them is also extensive. Categorizing these events meaningfully for practitioners, researchers, and students has been less than adequate. Traditionally, interpreted events have been characterized in а number of ways: (1) by institutional settings, such as educational, medical or legal where interpreting takes place; (2) by the language group with which an interpreter is associated (Spanish, ASL, Russian, etc.); (3) by the mode of interpreting (simultaneous, consecutive, translation, etc. ); (4) by the number or type of participants (conference, community, liaison, ad hoc, one-on-one, etc. ); or (5) by the social occasion (wedding, graduation, retirement, etc. ).

Descriptions based on the number of speakers and the extent of their participation use terms like conference interpreting and platform interpreting to mean one person speaking for an extended length, such as giving а speech, and an audience which is largely non-responsive.

Community interpreting or one-on-one interpreting is typically taken to mean two primary speakers (although others may be present) with an interpreter and is “done to assist those immigrants who are not native speakers of the language to gain full and equal access to statutory services (legal, health, education, local government, social services)” ( Collard-Abbas lard-Abbas 1989: 81).

There is also liaison interpreting or small group interpreting which means that the number of primary speakers is more than two, all of whom are participating in some way, such as а therapy group or а committee meeting. In some interpreting papers and texts, descriptions refer to details of the surface form of the message, such as Sign Language interpreting, where terms include sign to voice and voice to sign, or voicing.

In spoken language interpreting, it simply refers to the names of the languages involved, that is Swedish to Russian, or Spanish interpreting, and so on. Everyone recognizes the abundance of labels for interpreting. At the first international conference on community interpreting, there were calls for defining and refining the practice of community interpreting and its related subspecialities, such as legal interpreting ( Benmaman 1995). Both Gentile (1995) and Roberts (1995) point to the numerous designations of what community interpreting includes.

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