ABSTRACT: The Role-Space Model: Redefining the Concept of the Interpreter’s Role

This presentation will provide an overview of the role-space model of interpreted interactions developed by Peter Llewellyn-Jones and Robert G. Lee (2014). The core premise is that a ‘role’ is not something that people have, rather is it something that people do. Interpreters must learn to make use of not only their linguistic and cognitive processing skills in interpreted interactions, but also must strategically employ interpersonal skills (e.g., presentation of self, participant alignment, empathy, etc.) in order to facilitate successful interactions between and amongst the primary participants in the interaction. Knowledge of these skills in the interpreter’s working languages are vital for effective interpreting to occur.

The role-space model proposes three interrelated dimensions of interpreter decision making and behaviour: interaction management, participant alignment and the presentation of self.  Decisions made by interpreters during interactions can be mapped to these axes. The interaction between and amongst these axes forms the role-space that an interpreter occupies in any given interaction. An overview of the role-space model will be presented along with specific examples of applications to interpreting in the medical and legal domains.

Reference: Llewellyn-Jones, P., & Lee, R. G. (2014). Redefining the Role of the Community Interpreter: The Concept of Role-Space. SLI Press.

PowerPoint Handout: Handout XMU SLI Panel RG Lee Role Space 26 March 2021

  • Presented by Robert G. Lee at the international Xiamen University 100th Anniversary Conference, Panel on Sign Language Interpreting Education & Assessment (April 2-3, 2021)
    • Presentation Language: spoken English, with English captions.
    • Run time: Approx. 10 minutes

Biography: Robert G. Lee, Senior Lecturer in British Sign Language and Deaf Studies, University of Central Lancashire, United Kingdom

Robert G. Lee has been interpreting (American Sign Language/English), teaching and researching for more than 30 years. Robert is currently Senior Lecturer and Course Leader of the MA and Postgraduate Diploma in British Sign Language/English Interpreting at the University of Central Lancashire (UK). He has previously taught both Interpreting and Linguistics at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels as well as in conferences in North America, South America and Europe. He is the author or co-author of numerous articles and book chapters on various aspects of linguistics and interpreting from cognitive processing to the syntax of ASL. Robert, along with Peter Llewellyn-Jones, developed the Role-Space model of interpreted interactions drawing upon their combined 75+ years of experience in the interpreting profession.