Siirry sisältöön

Dealing with Gender

Delphine Thomas / 24.4.2024

In the comprehensive thesis "Dealing with Gender A Study of Gender-inclusive Choices when Interpreting from French Sign Language (LSF) into French" the primary objective is to undertake a thorough exploration of the nuanced utilization of gender-inclusive language during the interpretation process from LSF into the target language, providing insight into linguistic inclusivity within interpretation.

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Within the French context, while the existing literature reports that gender is very present and binary in the French language (Abbou, 2022), it seems that LSF only conveys a few gender markers. Since the paradigm of gender as a spectrum is gaining momentum in France (Viennot, 2014), inclusive language has been increasingly used in various contexts (Abbou, 2022, Viennot, 2014).

In this research, four hearing interpreters were individually asked to complete two interpreting tasks: one mainstream source-text video and one with a feminist angle. Their preferences were categorised using Lami’s categorisation of gender-inclusive strategies in French (2022). A think-aloud protocol allowed participants to identify potentially challenging gender issues, reflect on them, and cite other strategies they could have used, or could use in daily work situations. During the final phase, semi-directed interviews gave participants the opportunity to share more thoughts about their decision making. This potentially feminist interpreting practice was then explored regarding to its compatibility with the interpreters’ role.

Results suggest that the inclusiveness of LSF may encourage interpreters to prefer gender-neutral forms like epicene words, collective terms or impersonal phrases in French over word-pairs or neologisms. According to participants, the latter strategies could make women or even the (sensitive) question of gender in general too visible compared to how it was initially conveyed in the source-text. Differences analysed between the mainstream and the feminist target text could indicate a variety based on the existing source-text gender-inclusive strategies rather than on the positionality of the deaf presenter, the context of discourse, or even the interpreter’s positionality. However, participants say that collaboration with deaf signers influences their decision. Hence, this research advocates for a greater collaboration concerning gender issues, enhancing the shared agency between interpreters and the deaf people they embody when working in that language direction. Additionally, the current language evolution has an essential role on participants’ decision-making process.

In conclusion, interpreters seem to navigate between a feminist ideology, the current evolution of language, a shared agency, the perception of their role and their ethical values, including the notion of neutrality, which appeared to be outdated in the code of ethics.

The thesis can be accessed on the Theseus database.