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Abstracts of the presentations at Nordic Seminar 2021


See the full programme here


Presentations on Friday January 29

Messy and chaotic or patterned and complex? The functions of chaining in educational interpreting

Marjo-Leea Alapuranen and Elina Tapio

"This presentation attends to chaining, and the functions that this everyday multilingual, multimodal practice has in the context of educational interpreting. Chaining refers to the patterned, routine ways of interlinking different linguistic and multimodal elements in the context of visually oriented communities of sign language users. In this paper, chaining is seen as a languaging practice, i.e. language is not seen as a closed semiotic system but as a situational repertoire of multimodal meaning-making features from which the interpreters or other language users can draw on.

The material for the paper comes from two research projects: Alapuranen (2017) looked into how interpreters use chaining in authentic interpretation setting from English to Finnish Sign Language (FinSL) in higher education. The analysis focused on the forms and functions of those chaining sequences that included English language. The second research project (Tapio 2018 and 2019) investigated multilingual and multimodal meaning-making in a language learning oriented contexts. The data this presentation draws on was collected during an English course “Academic reading” offered for students in FinSL study programme. Both projects are based on multimodal approaches towards interaction.

Firstly, our goal is to unpack the interplay of the communicative modes in chaining sequences which can, at first, appear to be “messy linguistic practices”. Secondly, our goal is to discuss the different functions of chaining in interpreted interactions. Thirdly, we aim to provide sign language interpreters and interpreter trainers with tools that they can use to examine these complex languaging practices. We suggest that through informed understanding of these mundane actions sign language interpreters can reflect upon and further develop their work in our increasingly multimodal and multilingual working environments."


Interactional spaces and visual access

Minttu Laine

"One of the main areas of research on the interactional aspects of sign language interpreting has been the coordination of interaction (Wadensjö 1992) performed by the interpreter (e.g. (Roy 2000 [1989], Metzger 1999, Van Herreweghe 2002, Sanheim 2003, Berge & Thomassen 2016, Berge 2018). The cooperation between the deaf participant and the interpreter regarding the positioning and engagement in the interaction has also gained attention in the professional discussion (Kusters and De Weerdt 2016).

A particular problem has been identified in the previous research: despite the possibility to coordinate interaction the interpreter may not inform the hearing participant(s) about the obstacles related to positioning and timing that hinder visual accessibility and engagement in the interaction (Berge & Thomassen 2016).

This presentation is based on an ongoing study that addresses how the intermodal interaction between the speaking and signing participants is organized as interactional spaces. The concept of interactional space originates in the research on interaction between hearing people.

Interactional spaces are recurrently co-constructed by the participants of an interaction by lining a space with their bodies, and by directing their gaze and gestures towards the interlocutor(s) (Mondada 2009). The study at hand focuses on the ways the participants construct interactional spaces to ensure the flow of both auditively and visually oriented interaction while they focus on talk or a set of activities.

The data of the study consists of a video recording of an authentic checkup visit in a Finnish child health clinic, during which a deaf parent and two children meet a children’s nurse. The method of analysis is multimodal interaction analysis (Kääntä & Haddington 2011). The presentation discusses the tentative results, and reflections on informing the hearing participant on the visual accessibility matters."

Presentations on Saturday January 30


Team interpreting in multidirectional multi-party interaction

Saija Kuronen

"My master’s thesis, “Exploring team interpreting in multi-party interaction” (2019), focused on Finnish-Finnish Sign Language interpreters’ actions in two workplace meetings. More specifically, my study looked at the ‘work-division’ of interpreters, at how interpreters divided their rendering turns and participated in other team-interpreting-related actions during interactional flow, from a micro-analytical perspective. Additionally, the study reflected the implications interpreters’ actions have for the participants’ interaction and interpreters’ work.

In practice, interpreters’ work-division, i.e. the way(s) interpreters divide up the discourse and alternate rendering (i.e. ‘interpreting’) turns, directs their work on site. In the data interpreters worked according to participants’ turn-taking (with/without having a dedicated speaker’s interpreter for the presenter). Depending on the number of participants engaging in interaction and the colleague’s actions at a time, interpreters’ involvement in rendering and other team-interpreting-related actions varied on the intrapersonal and interpersonal level. During silence interpreters formed a ‘constellation’ of two non-rendering interpreters which changed into a constellation of a rendering and a non-rendering interpreter during single participant talk, and a constellation of two rendering interpreters when more than one participant engaged in interaction at the same time. With this work-division, “problematically” overlapping participants’ talk that required overlap-resolutions as described by (Roy, 1992/2015) occurred rarely and only when more than two participants overlapped in their talk.

The findings of the study indicate that ‘working according to participants’ turn-taking’ is conducive for the international flow in multidirectional discourse as it enables rendering most of the participants interaction unproblematically. However, for the reason that interpreters can only render a limited number of turns in which they have sensory access at a time, the findings of the study highlight the importance of cooperation between participants and interpreters in order to ensure each participant equal access to information. Lastly, for the reason that team interpreting, and the interpreters’ work-division impacts the interactional flow, the findings suggest that team interpreting should not solely be seen as a practice in service for the interpreters’ well-being, but it should also be perceived as a practice that may contribute to participation."

Deaf professionals and representation through interpretation

Päivi Kluuskeri

"It would take a lot of courage from anyone to give their professional voice in the hands of other people, yet this is common for deaf professionals when they work though interpretation. How can one trust that they are perceived according their professionality instead of the interpreters’ interpreting skills? Representation of deaf professionals through interpretation needs to be discussed amongst interpreters as it contains different aspects than “just” interpreting the content correctly. It also entails sounding correct and appropriate to a specific situation.

The field of Sign Language Interpreting is constantly evolving and changing alongside the changing needs of deaf people. One current topic in Finland is interpreting for deaf professionals in work life. Previous studies have discussed what uncertainties they have towards their interpreted representation and how this affects their selection of interpreters.

In my recent MA Thesis, I studied the perceptions of hearing professionals towards a deaf professional when they listened to a recording of the interpretation. My findings included the hearing professionals’ genuine understanding towards the interpretation and its limitations. They considered the interpretation separate from their perceptions on the deaf professionals’ professionality. In my research, the interpreters were specialised to work in that exact work environment, mastering the used discourse, which implies the successfulness of the specialised interpreting.

In my presentation I will discuss the importance of the discourse that interpreter produces in order to represent the deaf professional authentically to create a genuine interaction, despite being interpreted. I will also discuss how the findings of my study provides implications towards specialised interpreting; designated, workplace or preferred interpreters, and how the deaf professional and their interpreters could work together towards better representation."


Conference languages: English, International Sign