LINGUIST List 16.781

Tue Mar 15 2005

Diss: Translation: Napier: 'Linguistic Coping ...'

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        1.    Jemina Napier, Linguistic Coping Strategies of Sign Language Interpreters

Message 1: Linguistic Coping Strategies of Sign Language Interpreters

Date: 10-Mar-2005
From: Jemina Napier <>
Subject: Linguistic Coping Strategies of Sign Language Interpreters

Institution: Macquarie University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2001

Author: Jemina Melinda Napier

Dissertation Title: Linguistic Coping Strategies of Sign Language Interpreters

Linguistic Field(s): Translation

Subject Language(s): Australian Sign Language (ASF)
                            English (ENG)

Dissertation Director:
Trevor Johnston
Cynthia B Roy

Dissertation Abstract:

This study explores the linguistic coping strategies of Australian Sign
Language (Auslan)/ English interpreters specifically in relation to
interpreting in higher education. A survey instrument was used to examine
the demographics and educational backgrounds of Auslan/ English
interpreters. The survey found that a high percentage of Auslan
interpreters working in higher education did not hold a university
qualification. This finding raised the question of what linguistic coping
strategies Auslan/ English interpreters might employ to cope with a
university lecture, especially if they are not familiar with the discourse

The empirical study concentrated on the use of translation style and the
use of omissions as linguistic coping strategies in the interpretation of a
university lecture from English into Auslan, with consideration given to
sociolinguistic and sociocultural factors that influenced the use of these

The two key findings were: (1) Auslan/ English interpreters were dominant
in using a free or literal interpretation approach, with those using a free
approach occasionally switching to a literal approach within the
interpreted text, as a linguistic coping strategy to provide access to
English terminology. A combination of familiarity with the discourse
environment and the lecture topic influenced the extent of switching and
the use of fingerspelling. (2) Auslan/ English interpreters produced
omissions as a linguistic coping strategy, but also produced erroneous
omissions, with the most frequently occurring omissions being unconscious,
and the second most frequent being conscious strategic omissions. Omission
occurrence was also influenced by a combination of familiarity with the
discourse environment and the lecture topic.

The significance of this study is in relation to the education and training
of sign language interpreters in Australia. At the moment there are no
university level interpreter education programs available for Auslan/
English interpreters. This study demonstrates that to work in a university
setting, interpreters need to be familiar with the discourse environment
and preferably have subject-specific knowledge. Therefore university
training needs to be made available to Auslan/ English interpreters to
provide them with the linguistic exposure necessary for them to work in
higher education.

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