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Meeting and Participants

Social interaction is both composed of and composed by the interactants, their roles, their expectations, and their obligations within а social situation. Within interpreted events, getting to know the participants, their perspectives, and their reflections of what occurred is а luxury we do not have in real time. Not much has been written about the views or perspectives of the three people as they enter or emerge from an interpreted event. This chapter offers the opportunity to meet the three participants, to read their views about interpreters, to learn their goals within the event, and their reflections on being involved.

This chapter sets the scene by describing the physical setting and an overview of the meeting. From this point on, І refer to the participants by their role titles as their names because it is their enactment, their assumptions and expectations, and their perceptions of their respective roles that are significant in understanding their words and actions. So, І introduce the Professor, the Student, and the Interpreter and allow their perspectives to come forth in their own words In this way, they add to the definition, description, and understanding of the event we call interpreting.

Methodology The three participants met on а fall morning thirty minutes before а scheduled class at the university. They met in the Professor’s crowded office which was filled with bookshelves, filing cabinets, а desk, and two chairs. The Professor sat behind the desk, and the Student sat to one side of the desk. The Interpreter upended а trash can to sit next to the Professor and І stood against the door and filmed. The Student had come to а prearranged meeting thirty minutes before class was to begin. Thus, time was of the essence.

The meeting had to be conducted as quickly, yet as thoroughly, as possible. The Student was taking а graduate class in discourse analysis which focused on narratives that occur in conversation. The Professor explains the first requirement of the class: “The requirement for that class was that everybody tape record а conversation and choose one segment of it that they would then analyze for the whole semester. And а stipulation was that І had to approve. ” Students were expected to record several conversations, choose а narrative within one conversation, and transcribe it.

During one of the first class meetings, they were to play the recording of the narrative and hand in а copy of the transcript for copying and distribution to the entire class. The Student recorded а story in ASL on videotape and requested а brief meeting with the Professor before class to have her approve it and to see if the transcription was acceptable in its present form, As with languages other than English, the transcript had to include both а literal translation (and gloss) and an idiomatic translation.

An overview of Meeting The meeting began as everyone sat down. The Student spoke first, beginning with an explanation of how he collected the narrative and transcribed it. Before he could say much, the telephone rang, and the Professor stopped the meeting to answer the phone. As she talked on the phone, the Student asked the Interpreter if filming had begun. The Professor hung up the phone, apologized for the interruption, and said that she would not answer the phone again.

To do this, she had to adjust the telephone answering machine to answer the phone, yet silence the ring. As she went through these steps, she began to talk to the Student about the answering machine, When she was finished, she turned toward the Student, and the Student began to talk about using а TTY (а telecommunications device used in place of а telephone by Deaf persons) explaining how the light on the machine flickers and how he knows when the answering machine has answered the phone.

After а brief pause, the Student began to explain how the story came about, how the transcription and translation were accomplished, and then asked the Professor to approve the story. As the Professor took his paper, she explained that it was too late to arrange for а video machine to show his story in class that day but that she made the arrangement for next week. She began to read and read for approximately 8o seconds. When she finished, she looked up, said that the story was good, and began discussing it.

Soon she introduced the topic of chunking (chunking is а way of parsing narratives into unified sections [Chafe 198o]). She discussed how chunks are recognized by linguistic and discourse cues in spoken languages and wondered aloud if ASL also has these cues. The Student replied that it seems reasonable that ASL would have these cues and suggested what they might be. The Professor replied that identification of these cues may take time and cautioned the Student to identify the chunks he recognizes in ASL, not in the translation.

As this topic come to а close, the Student asked if he could turn in the improved version for the class meeting next Wednesday (the class meets only once а week). The Professor asked for the finished version by Monday. The Student explained earlier in the conversation that he would be away all weekend giving а talk, so he mentioned again that he would be returning on Monday, implying that his paper would not be ready. After а brief pause, he offered to turn in his story on Wednesday, right before class.

The Professor decided to see how many other students did not have their story ready and then decide what to do. The Student in quire if she wanted the version he has shown her or an improved one. She decided that students who did not have their stories ready that day should bring them to class next week with thirty copies (copies which will be distributed to other class members). The Student agreed to do that, and they began to close their conversation. As they closed, the Professor asked the Student for phone numbers to reach him in the evening (something she requests of all graduate students).

After а discussion of phone number, the meeting ended. Professor The Professor, Deborah Tannen, is а professor of linguistics and а University Professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D. C. She is the author of numerous books and articles on discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, language and gender, and the connection between speaking and writing. She is most well known for her popular books: That’s Not what І Meant: Women and Men in Conversation, which stayed on the bestseller lists for four years; Talking from 9 to 5; and, most recently, The Argument Culture.

She grew up in Brooklyn, New York, attended graduate school in California, and now makes her home in the Washington, D. C. area. Before she attended graduate school, she taught English as а second language in Greece and speaks Greek. My first questions were directed at her knowledge and experience with the other two participants. She knew the Student from his participation in а previous class: “І felt well-disposed toward him and comfortable with him in class. I’ve always liked [the Student] and І respected him too. І thought he was а good student, smart, and І always liked him.

” When asked what she thought about Deaf students in general, she replied that the first time а Deaf student had appeared in her class, she had been somewhat nervous, but now she has had four or five students in class over the years. She said: І like it; І mean І always found it interesting because we’re in the business of studying language. Having access to that very different language, it’s so instructive for us [professors at the university], it’s good. And І suppose being hard of hearing І have а predilection to feel well-disposed for that reason too.

І doubt it means much to them but . . . and they’re right, from their point of view І can hear, you know, what it matters but . . . but from my point of view І feel like there’s а certain identity. The Professor continued, explaining that as а teenager she had volunteered at the Lexington School for the Deaf in New York City. Noting the strong tendency of deaf children to sign even when forbidden, she retained positive feelings about sign languages as natural languages for Deaf people. She concluded, “So І had that background that made me feel well disposed. “

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