Maintain interpretation quality
Provide interpretation between multiple language pairs
To monitor and ensure interpretation quality more effectively
Team interpreters can support each other in different ways
Team interpretation can better support the communication needs of both hearing and deaf participants, for example
The need of the setting
To learn more:
Team Interpreting: Does it really work? (Giovanna L, Carnet) (Featured Article from the ATA Chronicle November/December 2006)
Interpreter Cognitive Aptitudes (Brooke Macnamara, 2012)
A sign interpreter not only has to be proficient in two or more languages (which include at least one spoken language and signed language, or at least two signed languages), but also has to receive different training and strive for professional and continuous development. A sign interpreter has to equip oneself with particular skill sets, just like a spoken language interpreter has to develop his/her particular skill sets. Are spoken language interpreters free of charge? The same answer applies to sign interpreters.
A sign interpreter has to equip oneself with different knowledge and capabilities: physical well-being, emotion control abilities, sufficient interpretation and life experience, and knowledge in terms of language and culture. According to Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Canada (ALVIC), the ‘professionalism’ of sign interpreters refers to -
A professional sign interpreter has undergone rigorous training and actively seeks to develop his/her career in this professional field. Therefore, it is reasonable for s/he to earn an appropriate income.
At the same time, clients are invested with power to select whose professional service they will purchase. As a professional, it is our responsibility to respect the preference of clients, and to set appropriate fees for our services in a fair, market-appropriate manner.
There are ‘man-hours’ involved in sign interpretation assignments
Interpreters spend time and effort to:
All these involve certain people’s ‘man hours’ and ‘effort’. At the same time, to provide on-site interpretation services, interpreters need to take transportation, and we also have to feed ourselves, live, and pay our rent...The work of sign interpreters is like the work of other occupations - there is labour value in it.
To learn more:
So You Want to be An Interpreter? - An Introduction to Sign Language Interpreting 4th edition (Janice H. Humphrey & Bob J. Alcorn, 2007)
Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Canada website: http://www.avlic.ca/
Sign interpreters interpret for both hearing and deaf participants
According to government information, the current policies related to ‘sign interpretation’ are
Currently, there are limited government resources allocated to sign interpretation services. The sign interpretation services provided by only several centres subvented by the Social Welfare Department in limited settings are inadequate for deaf citizens to engage fully in the community in various aspects, such as education, and cultural and leisure activities.
Therefore, we encourage different organisations, companies and event organisers to start with ourselves and embrace our social responsibility through making our event accessible. Let’s also walk hand in hand to fight for more public resources allocated to the development of sign interpretation, and eliminate communication barriers in our society.
To learn more:
ADA Requirements: Effective Communication (US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division - Disability Rights Section) (Retrieved from https://www.ada.gov/effective-comm.htm)
Spoken languages make use of audio-vocal channels, while signed languages make use of visual-gestural channels. Although we received and expressed spoken languages and signed languages with different channels, both of them are natural languages, and we can always find design features of natural languages in spoken and signed languages. For example, sign languages also have their own grammars, and can effectively and completely communicate all concepts even when they are not immediately present spatially or temporally (eg. things happening before and in the future, abstract concepts, complicated concepts, and things that do not even exist). Sign languages are also ‘productive’ languages, as they can naturally develop new vocabulary to express new concepts as time goes and our society develops. Sign languages are also languages that can be naturally acquired - a child can naturally acquire the language if s/he is exposed in different social environments with sufficient sign language input - as a result, sign language and the culture embedded in it can be passed on from generation to generation.
Some examples of design features of languages:
Then what is the origin of Hong Kong Sign Language (HKSL)? According to previous research, sign languages are naturally developed when Deaf individuals come together and communicate. Deaf schools, especially deaf schools with dorms, are excellent social environments for the development of sign languages. The research paper ‘Early Deaf Education in Hong Kong and Its Relation With the Origin of Hong Kong Sign Language’ found that the origin of HKSL was closely related to Hong Kong’s local deaf schools: at the very beginning, deaf children spontaneously developed a gestural system of communication among themselves in schools and in their dorms; later on, the Nanjing/Shanghai variety of Chinese Sign Language were introduced into HKSL because of the establishment of a deaf school by a pair of Deaf couple from Shanghai, which also contributed to the development of HKSL. At the same time, the emergence of different deaf associations and different social activities and gatherings within the Deaf community had provided nice environments for deaf individuals from different backgrounds to interact with HKSL. The process ‘harmonised’ the differences of HKSL between signers from different backgrounds, and gradually developed into the HKSL we are using today.
To learn more:
What sign language teaches us about the brain （Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/what-sign-language-teaches-us-about-the-brain-29628）
From cooing and babbling to utterance in American Sign Language （網址：https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChsODznkINQ）
‘Early Deaf Education in Hong Kong and Its Relation With the Origin of Hong Kong Sign Language’ (Sze et. al, 2011)
We can make use of different ways to communicate with our Deaf friends. The key is to respect the preferences and choices of each deaf individual.。
No. Natural Hong Kong Sign Language and Chinese are two distinct languages with distinct grammars. If we interpret everything in a word-to-word manner into sign language, the expression will be very unnatural, making it very hard to understand for our deaf audience who are natural HKSL users. Imagine a word-to-word translation of Cantonese to English (that is, using english vocabulary but following cantonese word order) - I piano day buy left three dice sugar （我琴日買咗三粒糖） - this greatly hinders the understanding of the audience.
At the same time, an interpreter should also consider the cultural elements embedded in each language, and the implications of the interpretation output to the audience. Despite only interpreting word after word, the contextual force (eg. teacher’s intent to make students laugh by telling a stupid joke during the class, a politician’s intent to win the crowd’s support by provoking people emotionally through making a speech) should be precisely reflected and relayed in the interpretation to bring the same impact to the audience.
Word-by-word interpretation is a type of literal translation, and interpreters have to make use of both literal translation and semantic translation flexibly according to the needs of the audience.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals come from different backgrounds. They graduate from different schools, and have different habits in terms of language use. Some may prefer the use of ‘Chinese sign language’ (Signing according to written Chinese grammar) in communication. In such situations, interpreters have to follow the language preference of the target audience, and sign in a word-to-word manner.
Everyday we find ourselves in different ‘settings’ - at school, in the workplace, at a friend’s place, on public transport, or in a clinic. We communicate with others in these various settings. Have you ever noticed that the communication styles differ across settings?
During a lesson, we have to raise our hands before we speak; but when we are chatting with our classmates, we can talk whenever we like.
In a courtroom, people are always solemn and serious; while at a close friend’s place, we can chat very casually and even tease each other.
Talking to a doctor in a clinic, we will be listening to and talking about illness and medication related issues; while in the Legislative council, we usually expect topics related to public policies and affairs.
When interacting with people in different ‘settings’, we have to make use of different knowledge, and have to communicate in different ways - ‘discourse’ refers to what and how we communicate in specific situations.
Knowing the discourse and setting of your event, we can prepare for the interpretation assignment thoroughly, and assign the most suitable interpreters to your event according to their specific knowledge, their familiarity of the specific discourse, and their experience in interpreting that specific discourse. This can ensure effective conveying of information and interpretation quality. Click here to learn more about different discourses.