Tid: Torsdag 2 maj 2013 kl. 15:00 – 17:00
Plats: C307, Södra huset, Frescati

A fundamental difference between signed and spoken languages is that in signed languages the signer uses the three dimensional space in front of him/her (signing space) and his/her own body for reference and cohesion. Optimal use of signing space is dependent on the signer’s knowledge of what s/he is going to talk about. In a simultaneous interpreting situation, both the content and the structure of the discourse become known to the interpreter only gradually. Thus, it is difficult for an interpreter working simultaneously into a signed language to know how to best structure the discourse, as there is no way s/he can know exactly what the speaker will say next.

In the present study, Swedish Sign Language (SSL) interpreters have been filmed when interpreting from spoken Swedish into SSL. Both interpreters whose first language is SSL (L1 interpreters) and those who are second language learners of SSL (L2 interpreters) have been recorded. Their signed language production is studied using a model based in Conceptual Blending Theory, and mainly analyzing use of Real Space Blending (Liddell, 2003), focusing on how they use signing space and their body to mark the discourse structure.

The unexpected findings of a preliminary analysis indicate striking differences both in how and how much the recorded L1 and L2 interpreters use their body, especially regarding the use of movements of the upper body. In this presentation, I will show how the L1 interpreters structure the discourse content using buoys and tokens (Liddell, 2003) in a highly visual interplay with body movements. Buoys and tokens are combined with e.g. sideway movements and rotations of the upper body, thereby marking the structure of the discourse. The L1 interpreters move their upper body in a manner that gives a relaxed and natural impression, frequently e.g. raising their shoulders as part of sign production. Despite finding out the discourse content only gradually, and while already rendering their interpretation of what has been said so far, they manage to produce signed discourse that is strikingly similar to spontaneously produced SSL discourse. As we will see, the movements of the L2 interpreters are quite different, and I am currently struggling to describe their body movements which do not reflect the structure of the discourse in the same way.


Ljuba Veselinova