Discourse Analysis for Interpreters
Upcoming Volume -Input and discussion opportunities will be available soon!!
A new volume is being finalized through Gallaudet Press and its online publication partner, Manifold. Once the volume is drafted, interpreters, educators, and researchers will be welcomed to provide input, added resources, and citations! Please stay tuned for this exciting new resource!
See a brief poster shared at Conference of Interpreter Trainers (CIT) 2022
Why is Discourse Analysis Important?
It is the thoughts that drive language forward. A basic challenge for discourse analysis is to identify the forces that give direction to the flow of thoughts.” (Chafe:2001: 673)
In this volume we explore questions of language in use. Although the primary focus is on topics especially relevant to students learning about ASL/English interpreting, much is applicable to anyone interested in the study of interpreting and translating. An understanding of discourse and discourse analysis is essential for interpreters, interpreter educators, and frankly, for anyone who participates in communication!
It is essential because discourse is the goal of language learning and use. It is not enough to learn lists of vocabulary, to drill into memory page after page of facial expressions, verb inflections, and memorized sentences. In order to effectively communicate in ASL and in English (and any others that might be used for interpreting—Spanish, Russian, Mexican Sign Language, to name a few), interpreters must be able to make choices in their use of each language to build meaning, and they need to accomplish that using language and communicative norms appropriate for everyday communication.
It is important to understand the discourse structures that influence effective communication. Discourse analysis is about how people use language to accomplish actions and goals. As Janzen (2005) remarks, “[B]ecause language facility is at the heart of interpreter work, it is well worth the effort to spend a good deal of time studying it.” (p. 80).
For practitioners and students of interpreting, discourse analysis is also essential. After all, interpreting is nothing more nor less than discourse analysis in action. Interpreters must be able to recognize how meaning is being built through the choices participants make during interaction. They need to readily identify discourse structures and markers in source messages and produce appropriate, dynamically equivalent structures in the target language.
It is necessary to teach about discourse-too often teaching interpreting stops at the vocabulary and sentence level. Interpreting students spend much of their time learning vocabulary and little time learning how to recognize it in the complexities of discourse in action. In the scope of this volume it is impossible to go into depth on every topic. The topics are designed to provide you with an introduction to many new ideas. The goal is to give you information that will begin your investigation of discourse and discourse phenomena as it is relevant to your goals as interpreters and communicators.