TITLE: Consumer Assessment and Language Modification Skills
PRESENTERS: Tinne Lund
When interpreting for a consumer with special linguistic needs, deaf interpreters have to do something with their language to make sure, that the consumer understands. But what is this "something"?
The study investigated what linguistic tools the deaf interpreters use when accommodating to the consumer's language. In a case study of three deaf interpreters interpreting a first aid course for a consumer with special linguistic needs, a hypothesis of communication accommodation was tested. The hypothesis was that deaf interpreters use special linguistic tools as L1 speakers, and that these tools were comparable to the tools used in the so-called "foreigner talk". "Foreigner talk" is a communication accommodation theory that states that a L1 speaker is able to modify his or her language when speaking to a L2 speaker, in order to make sure that the L2 speaker understands the message. The modification consists of a series of linguistic traits, such as lower speech rate, high frequency words etc.
These traits were also found in the interpretations of the three deaf interpreters in the study. It therefore seems fair to say that the language accommodation in question is actually "foreigner talk". The language accommodation in "foreigner talk" is made on the basis of an unconscious assessment of the consumer. In order for this new knowledge to be put into use, the assessment criteria can be made conscious and the traits of "foreigner talk" can be taught to future deaf interpreters. Consumers and interpreters both will benefit from this.