Features of the work of deaf-mute translators

The work of a sign language interpreter is a complex undertaking with many nuances that only professionals can understand. Therefore, it is not uncommon for deafblind interpreters to become the heroes of memes. Internet users make a lot of jokes and like to comment on the interpreter’s overly emotional facial expressions.

A similar story happened with one sign language interpreter at New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s press conference on the Ebola virus. The ASL specialist in American Sign Language attracted the attention of onlookers, who were not lazy to take screenshots and memes about what he was saying after all.

But those familiar with the work of a sign language interpreter know that facial expressions are an important part of sign language grammar:

A sweep of the eyebrow is syntactic information.
Mimicry of the lips — a certain amount of information.
Movements of other parts of the face, hands — organisation of the discourse as a whole.

Vivid facial expressions and gestures are not a sign of excessive emotionality and energy of the interpreter, but tools of visualization of each word. After all, thoughts in sign language are expressed in gestures.

The audience at the press conference noticed another peculiarity in the sign language interpreter’s work. It seemed that the specialist was not talking to the entire audience, but to a specific person in the audience. These two interlocutors were talking to each other, as if they were ignoring everything that the rest of the conference participants were saying. So many in the audience wondered if there had been an interpretation.

The experienced deaf and dumb interpreter, Jonathan Lamberton, did interpret, but he was paired with another certified interpreter. The second interpreter could perceive speech by ear and translate the interpretation of what was said. Why such complications?

A certified deafblind interpreter working in tandem with another specialist ensures a high quality of interpretation. Such an approach helps to engage the part of the audience that cannot perceive speech by ear.

It is therefore worth concluding that jokes about Deaf-Blind interpreters are unnecessary. This is difficult work that requires high skills and understanding.

Translation bureau in Minsk.