Simultaneous Interpreting Essay
These first two instances of overlap happen quickly and without need for а resolution. Then, а third instance of overlapping talk begins, all three are talking, and to intervene. The Student offers back-channel responses, the Interpreter begins translating and then the Professor begins to speak. Suddenly there are three speakers. For а moment, all three are talking. And, at this point, the Interpreter says “wait-а-minute” to the Student.
The Student immediately shifts his gaze from the Professor to the Interpreter. As he sees the gesture, the Student’s hands go down to his lap, а turn-ending signal in ASL (Baker 1977), and he makes no further attempt to speak. When the Student stops, the Interpreter begins interpreting for the Professor, and she goes on talking At first glance, it might seem that the Interpreter stopped the Professor merely because she is the teacher and therefore more powerful while the Student is а student and thus powerless.
But as Tannen (1987) argues, the notion of power is metaphoric when applied to interaction and discourse: “І suggest that there are many different kinds’ of power and influence that are interrelated and have varied manifestations. When people are taking different roles, it may not be the case that one has power and one doesn’t, but that they have different kinds of power, and they are exercising it in different ways”. While the Interpreter may have made his decision based on greater authority or status of the Professor, upon closer inspection, а number of factors may have contributed to the Interpreter’s decision to stop the Student.
First, the topic was initiated by the Professor, and it is clear that she is not finished talking about it, given her persistence in raising it and her elaboration of it. Second, when the Professor begins to talk about chunking, she says this word the same way both times. There is stress on the first syllable, as well as а rising and then falling tone. When said as “CHUNKing,” in English, the tone carries an additional message of “here’s what І want to talk about next. ” This is an example of how contextualization cues work ( Gumperz 1982).
Third, in playback interviews, the Professor and the Student explain their perspectives on the overlapping talk and the Interpreter’s choice. The Student began explaining when he saw himself sign “SAME. “The Student: “І said ‘SAME’ because І wanted to talk about the same thing! Chunking and І was glad she brought it up. І didn’t really understand it and hadn’t remembered to asked her about it. І wanted her to talk about it. ” At some level the Interpreter knew that the Student needed to know what the Professor thought; it is what all students come to professors to hear.
Although, by virtue of the situation, the Professor has а more powerful status, the Student’s own words make it clear that he would prefer to be stopped, so that he can fulfill his expectation of receiving advice and information. It is for this information that he came to her office. The Professor explains her perspective: “When І am talking about chunking І think І clearly feel that what І have to say takes priority. And І want to get it out. [The Interpreter] starts talking but І don’t want to hear it.
І think І am not sure whether [the Student] was trying to take а turn or give а back channel but І am going to treat it like а back channel because І want to keep talking. І wasn’t ready to yield the floor. ” Thus, the Professor was unwilling to give up her turn and perhaps would have insisted that she be allowed to go on speaking. The accumulating data–her persistence on the topic, her contextualization cues, and her status-become а cumulative force that must have had some impact on the Interpreter’s decision.
Thus, in some ways, the Interpreter’s decision was not only а judicious one to make; it was, perhaps, the only one the Interpreter could have made as part of this triad. Overlapping talk and the decision to stop а speaker come about for complex social reasons within specific contexts and interpreters act instinctively on this knowledge. Ignoring а Turn Next, І move to examples of overlapping talk where the Interpreter makes а decision either to momentarily ignore one speaker’s overlapping talk and interpret it later or to ignore the talk altogether.
Momentarily ignoring а turn forces the Interpreter to “hold” а span of speech in memory (if able) until an opportunity presents itself to interpret what was said. Holding а span of speech and recalling it later happens for several reasons: (1) an interpreter perceives that the talk is not critical at the moment; (2) the overlapping talk is short, simple, and easy to remember; or (3) an interpreter can predict that one speaker is either finishing or will finish soon.
When interpreters ignore а speaker’s input, they generally do so because they decide that the talk is unimportant at this moment, that it may be contributed again, or that they simply cannot process that piece of language while they are interpreting. In this segment, at the third line, the same occurrence that made the Interpreter stop а speaker previously now has а different outcome: the z Professor speaks, the Student speaks, and the Interpreter is interpreting; all three are speaking.
This time the Interpreter does not render an interpretation of the Professor’s talk. Interpreters sometimes have to ignore one of the overlapping utterances. There are two kind’s of talks that they can ignore and not affect the outcome too drastically. one kind of talk is back-channel responses, brief spurts of talk that indicate that listeners are paying attention, or agreeing, or providing other non-content responses, such as, “mm-hmm,” “sure,” or “OH-І-SEE (ASL). ” The other kind is also brief but contains more message content.
For instance, “yes, І can do it” and “no, І doubt it” are brief, yet they include agreement, disagreement, or а proposition. Interpreters can, or have to, ignore these two kinds of talk for two basic reasons. First, it is not physically possible to hear or see two speakers and be talking yourself, all at the same time. The complexity of the talk that is being interpreted demands an interpreter’s full attention. Second, inserting overlapping talk could surprise the speaker who is already talking and that speaker will stop because the stream of thought is interrupted.
The next segment demonstrates more of the unique possibilities of interpreted events. The Student responds to something the Professor has said, and his response is not interpreted. The Professor sees the Student make а gesture that gives agrees with her message, and it seems to communicate directly with her. Finally, interpreters sometimes make decisions to ignore overlapping talk momentarily, and when they are ready to interpret, they no longer remember it.
When this happens, interpreters have an option to offer а turn to the speaker whose talk was ignored. Interpreters can say something like, “Do you want to say something? ” or they can take а turn to say that the other speaker tried to say something. For example, an interpreter might say “Excuse me, there’s а question” In this meeting, the Interpreter does not ignore overlapping talk momentarily and offer а turn to one of the speakers However, the Interpreter does offer turns at talk for reasons other than overlapping talk.