5 negotiating meaning in face to face interpreting an intercultural perspective
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5 - Negotiating Meaning in Face-to-Face Interpreting: An intercultural perspective. Ian Mason ( Heriot Watt University ) Sichuan University, October 2013. Interculturality. New book published in USA by Chinese-American Amy Chua (professor of law at Yale University):

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5 negotiating meaning in face to face interpreting an intercultural perspective

5- Negotiating Meaning in Face-to-Face Interpreting:An intercultural perspective

Ian Mason (Heriot Watt University)

Sichuan University, October 2013

interculturality
Interculturality
  • New book published in USA by Chinese-American Amy Chua (professor of law at Yale University):
  • Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
interculturality1
Interculturality
    • Parenting styles:
      • US (promote freedom, creativity)

versus

      • Chinese (promote discipline)
  • Reception in US:
      • Defence of long US tradition of creativity, innovation.
      • Fear: look at China’s economic success!
interculturality2
Interculturality
  • Chinese translation:
  • Parenting Guide by a Yale Law Professor: Raising Kids in America
interculturality3
Interculturality
  • Reception in China:
    • ‘How do I get my kids into Harvard?’
  • Differing reader response to same text:
  • ‘Pre-text’: the assumptions we bring to our reading.
  • Different title also reflects culture.
the co operative principle
The Co-operative Principle
  • Ideal speaker and listener
  • No allowance for cultural differences
  • Anglo-centric?
cross cultural business exchange in english
Cross-cultural business exchange in English

A Hello, Mr X

X Hello, Mr A

A It’s been a long time since we saw each other last

X Yes, too long, I’m afraid

A Well, that depends on what you mean by a long time …

  • Stalpers (1987)
apparent flouting of maxims
Apparent flouting of maxims
  • RELEVANCE: “It’s been a long time…”
    • Implicature: criticism – it’s been too long.
  • QUANTITY: “… I’m afraid”
    • Implicature: I regret (that you have taken so long?)
  • MANNER: “… that depends…”
    • Implicature: I don’t consider it long
      • Cross-cultural implicature
      • Assumptions not shared
the dialogue interpreter
The dialogue interpreter
  • at centre of cross-cultural exchanges
  • only participant with bi-cultural expertise
  • ability to make the implicit explicit
house 2005 dimensions of cross cultural difference german english
House (2005): Dimensions of cross-cultural difference (German – English)

Directness ---------- Indirectness

Orientation Orientation

towards self ---------- towards Other

Orientation Orientation

towards Content ---------- towards Addressees

Explicitness ---------- Implicitness

Ad hoc Formulation ----------Verbal Routines

sources of intercultural difficulties
Sources of intercultural difficulties
  • Differences of language behaviour
  • Differences of non-verbal behaviour
  • attribution of motives to others’ behaviour
  • in-group/out-group bias

Brislin (1980)

british chinese business meeting spencer oatey xing in spencer oatey 2008
British/Chinese business meeting (Spencer-Oatey & Xing, in Spencer-Oatey 2008)
  • Language behaviour: ‘we’/’you’ focus
  • Non-verbal behaviour: (in)formality
  • Attribution: seating arrangement shows lack of respect
  • In/out-group: importance of personal contact: Tim, the China Sales Manager
in addition
In addition:
  • Differences of power and status
      • The interpreter’s role conflict:
      • The right to intervene?
      • The duty to intervene?
interpreter intervention in chinese english meeting
Interpreter intervention in Chinese/English meeting
  • British chairman makes welcome speech.
  • His team introduce themselves.
  • British chairman invites Chinese team to introduce themselves.
  • Head of Chinese team begins reply speech.
  • Interpreter interrupts: “No, just introduce yourselves… ” Spencer-Oatey & Xing 2008: 263
footing
Footing
  • “the alignments we take up to ourselves and the others present as expressed in the way we manage the production or reception of an utterance”

E. Goffman (1981), p.128

footing production format
Footing: production format
  • Animator
  • Author
  • Principal
an example distancing
An example: distancing

Interpreter’s footing at a war-crimes trial

  • Need to interpret very distressing testimonies.
  • Need to cope with aggressive witnesses.
an example distancing1
An example: distancing

“Le présidentvousdemandesi…”

[The judge is asking you whether…]

“Die Zeuginantwortet…”

[The witness replies that…]

an example alignment
An example: alignment

Therapy session at Vienna hospital (German/Serbian)

T Now look, today we won’t sit down, today we’ll lie down, like in sleeping.

I You will lie down here.

T Hm?… Do you mind that?

P Yes

T Shall we do that?

P Yes

T Yes, good. Do you understand me? [to I] Tell him to/

I Do you understand? The lady says you should lie down. Down there you should lie down, down there.

Pochhacker & Kadric (1999)

an example alignment1
An example: alignment

T Do you understand me? [to I] Tell him to/

I Do you understand? The lady says you should lie down…

intercultural pragmatics
Intercultural pragmatics

An example: courtroom interpreting (Berk-Seligson 1988;1990)

  • Deferential politeness more common in Latin-American Spanish than in American English
  • L-A interpreter initiates cycle of politeness
  • Witnesses must address the court (i.e. the judge)
  • Witnesses often address the interpreter
interpreter s four options
Interpreter’s four options
  • interpret accurately (“Yes, Madam”)
  • interpret incorrectly (“Yes, Sir”)
  • raise the problem with the judge
  • drop the honorific
interpreter strategies
Interpreter strategies
  • Evidence that interpreters do ‘face work’, e.g. attenuation of bad news (redressive action):
  • Doctor: “your blood pressure is high”
  • Interpreter: “you have a little raised blood pressure”
interpreter strategies1
Interpreter strategies
  • Doctor: “You’re HIV-positive”
  • Interpreter: “The tests are positive”

Clifford (2007)

  • Off-record strategy
interpreter strategies2
Interpreter strategies
  • Doctor: “Are you taking any other medication?”
  • Patient: “No… well, actually, I take sleeping pills but don’t tell him that!”
    • Culture 1: medicines by prescription only, for patient only.
    • Culture 2: medicines freely available, exchanged among friends and family.
interpreter strategies3
Interpreter strategies

Angelelli (2012): pain-rating scales

Nurse: Okay, from a scale from one to ten, ten being the worst pain, is it a ten? (…)

Patient: Well. Yes. I have had it since this morning. It is there, I can feel it, not very strong but…

Interp: How strong is not very strong, is it a 5, a 3 or a…

Patient: More or less like a 5

footing and control
Footing and control

Off.Did you look round for a job in Poland?

Int.[Did you look for work? You looked for work and there wasn’t any?]

Imm.[Yes]

Int.Yes, he was looking for work but there was no work.Berriff 1997

institutional role
Institutional Role
  • TV interpreting
  • Immigration or medical interpreting
  • USA courtroom interpreting
    • The interpreter’s ability to control.
conclusion interpreter behaviour
Conclusion: Interpreter behaviour
  • Protection of own self/image
  • Assumptions about cultural assumptions of participants and about their interactional goals
  • Alignment (often but not always to the more powerful participant)
  • Face work
  • Institutional constraints on freedom
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