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Role of the Interpreter

The role of the interpreter is created by and performed within the interaction. Analysis of the videotape and transcript have shown how the Interpreter’s discourse decisions and shifting aspects of role both create the role and define the role in terms of the other participants’ expectations for the role. An interpreter’s competence includes knowledge of two languages, knowledge of social situations, “ways of speaking,” and strategies for managing the event.

Contrary to interpreting belief systems, interpreters are actively involved in interpreting conventions for language use and in creating turn exchanges through their knowledge of discourse systems and social practices, and the way these systems put that knowledge together to create meaning. The interpreter comes to interpreting situations knowing how situations work in the larger society, how social roles influence what people say and do, and how these systems might come into conflict.

In this study the Interpreter exchanged turns with each speaker, created linguistic forms of turns, created some of the unique features, such as lengthy lag, and resolved turn problems, such as overlap. In particular, the Interpreter recognized overlap quickly and made linguistic choices to stop the overlap. Many of his choices exemplified his understanding and interpretation of the social situation involving а meeting between teacher and student. Most significantly, the Interpreter participated in the discourse by taking turns.

Taking turns demonstrates how the role allows flexibility when the possibility for miscommunication exists. Although in this event the Interpreter offered turns only to the Student, it is equally likely that turns could be offered or assigned to either participant in another event that has differing constraints. only interpreters know how а total scene is unfolding; participants consistently volunteer that the one thing of which they are most unsure knows when their turn occurs. Taking turns is at the heart of the discourse process and interpreters both control and must accept some responsibility for the outcome of this process.

Last, but not least, this study has shown that the interpreter is not solely responsible for the success or the failure of an interpreting event. All three participants jointly produce this event and, as such, all three are responsible for the communicative success or failure. Now, what remains for us to examine is the notion of interpreter neutrality: “Given that neutrality is а notion concerning relations, the question concerning dialogue interpreters’ activities must be: neutral in relation to whom and/or what?

” (Wadensjo 1992: 268) As Metzger (1995) asks: “Should interpreters, recognizing that they cannot help but function as а participant within an interpreted encounter, no longer strive to be neutral or impartial or should they recognize the paradox of neutrality and strive to minimize their influence on interactive discourse” (22o). Both of these imply the other side of the coin: responsibility. So that the other question to be asked is: In what way is neutrality balanced by responsibility?

Or what are interpreter responsibilities in the process of communicating? Future Research Research done in other contexts, such as medical, legal, and social services, will undoubtedly clarify other interaction norms of interpreted events, as well as explain to а greater degree how interpreter’s know what things mean. Among the issues to be addressed by such research are the following: 1. Given that interpreters are influential in ordering and constraining turn exchanges, what other discourse features do they actively manage?

2. What characteristics of primary participants are significant in determining the interpretation of utterances? 3. In what ways are other discourse situations and events similar or different from the event studied here? Such research would suggest central principles of interpreting theory and would begin to specify the linguistic, socio-cultural, and discourse knowledge that an interpreter must have to make decisions and appropriate interpretations.

Professional organizations and membership associations for interpreter’s should vigorously promote university programs where such research could begin, including funding research centers, institutes, or studies for individual scholars.

References Anderson, B. 1976. “Perspectives on the role of an interpreter” In R. Brislin (ed. ). Translation. Applications and Research. New York: Gardner, 2o8-225. Anderson, B 1978. “Interpreter roles and interpretation situations” In D. Gerver and H. W. Sinaiko (eds. ), Language Interpretation and Communication New York: Plenum, 217-23o.

Baker, C. 1977. “Regulators and turn-taking in American Sign Language discourse”. In L. А. Friedman (ed. ), on the other Hand New perspectives on American: Sign Language. New York: Academic, 215-236. Benmaman, V. 1997. “Legal interpreting by any other name is still legal interpreting”. In S. Carr et al. (eds. ), The Critical Link. Interpreters in the Community, papers from the first International Conference on Interpreting in Legal, Health, and Social Service Settings, 1995. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: Benjamins, 179-19o.

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