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Form and Content:

Meaning, Metaphor and Interpreting

Evie Garf
Winter 2019
Interpreting 5
What do metaphors ● relate two things that are
not “literally” related
do ?
● applied to clarify or
improve our understanding

● use something we know to


guide us toward something
we don’t

● the point is to help


We use

“SOURCE & TARGET”


DOMAINS

to talk about interpreting

...and also to talk about metaphor


SOURCE DOMAIN TARGET DOMAIN

● everyday experience ● abstract concepts

● things that are ● we can’t see or


observable observe them

● familiar concepts ● how access these


ideas??
Examples of Metaphors (baked into) ASL

● Mind as container (learn, teach, open-minded)

● Ideas as objects (remember, store in back, retrieve


info later)

● Ideas that exist are straight/ideas that don’t fully


exist are bent...
(Wilcox, P.P.)
Ideas
that
exist are
straight

Ideas that
don’t
fully exist
are bent

( Wilcox, P.P.)
ICONIC VS. METAPHORICAL

ICONIC METAPHORICAL
● Represents something with ● Represents something that is
its own physical structure not literally “there”
● You can imagine it without ● Ideas don’t have their own
the representation physical structures, so we
● The point is to “copy” steal structures we already
something that already exists know to talk about
● Sign example TREE ● Also uses iconicity, but has
another layer
( Wilcox, P.P.)
Authorship in Interpreting

Do consumers “own” the content

and interpreters “own” the form?


“...a continuum of authorship based on
Range of a range of features such as
Authorship for ownership of content and
Interpreted form of an utterance”
(Metzger, 179)
Interactions
Meaning is not one indissoluble thing.
It “comes apart,” both a content and a
form

Roles are split between interpreters


and participants to
(Metzger) "co-construct" meaning
When looking at interpreting, you can peel
“Speaker” Roles: these roles apart and see that these
elements are performed by different
people.

author
This leads us to understanding that
animator different people can be responsible for
different parts of making the meaning:

(principle) “co-construction”

(Llewellyn-Jones, P, & Lee, R.G. )


Metamessage: how the words
Metamessage are said portrays something more
and Form than the words do.

Words are flexible, and the


exact same ones can mean many
different things in different
contexts.

The form is what interpreters


control, and is also the site of the
(Tannen)
metamessage/leaves impressions
Manipulation Manipulation
of of
the form the content
is expected. is not.
An Audience “Makes Meaning” Too
● You can send a message out, but if it’s not received, you haven’t
communicated.
● Audiences’ impressions construct meaning too.

Original speaker’s content,


contained in the interpreter’s form,
all taken in by the context of an audience
“Instructions for Construction”

● Language is just “instructions for construction” of meaning

● We are never actually “touching meanings” with each other.

● We’re all guessing how to reconstruct each other’s meanings.

● “Words themselves say nothing”...without the understandings we


have of them.
(Wilcox & Shaffer)
“[words] do not
mean...they are
prompts for us to
construct
meanings”
(Wilcox & Shaffer , p. 39)
● Any language use is “taking a
leap,” like metaphors do
Everything we
● Metaphors aren’t specialty
understand is items
“re-constructed” ● Metaphors are everywhere, they
from what we are baked in, we use them even
when we don’t realize it
think the words
in our shared ● For interpreting, looking at
metaphors especially helpful as
languages mean those “instructions” to
re-construct meaning
References

Llewellyn-Jones, P, & Lee, R.G. (2014). Redefining the role of the community interpreter: The concept of role-space.
Lincoln, UK: SLI Press.

Metzger, M. (1999). Sign language interpreting: Deconstructing the myth of neutrality (p. 179). Washington, DC:
Gallaudet University Press.

Tannen, D. (1986). That’s not what I meant!: How conversational style makes or breaks relationships. New York:
HarperCollins Publishers.

Wilcox, P.P. (2005). What do you think? metaphor in thought and communication domains in american sign
language. Sign Language Studies, 5(3), 267-291.

Wilcox, S. & Shaffer, B. (2005). Towards a cognitive model of interpreting. Topics in signed language Interpreting:
Theory and practice, 63, pp. 27–50. T. Janzen (Ed.). New Mexico: Benjamins Translation Library.
“Real Languages” Represent Abstraction?

de-valuing of more literal, directly referential kinds of symbolization

if we want to prize literal language, it's because that seems like it's the most
basic and clear form of symbolization; and yet, an iconic sign is much closer to
being actually "literal" than using an arbitrary, abstracted spoken word.
What does it mean to call something abstract, since most everything we call
literal language is an abstractified, arbitrary symbol?

It is what it is because "members of the community agreed, and not because of


any other reason" (Monikowski)

So if we want to prize literal language, it's because that seems like it's the most basic and clear form of symbolization; and yet, an iconic
sign is much closer to being actually "literal" than using an arbitrary, abstracted spoken word. challenging the definitions and concepts of
what it means to call something abstract, since most everything we call literal language is an abstractified, arbitrary symbol.
“...perspectives on sign language reveal a
complicated and contradictory history...there are
clear patterns: sign language is often glorified as
a more perfect and exact langauge than speech;
yet it is more often seen as a primitive,
proto-language incapable of conveying abstract
thought. Either case is inaccurate…”
Bauman, 129
Interpreting Metaphors

Would this arbitrary symbol carry


over if I borrow from one language
and try to make it fit in the other?

Which aspect of the thing that I'm


trying to represent is actually
symbolizable?
“Once interpreters accept that they are makers
of their own meaning, and not converyers of
discovered meaning, the goal of achieving
neutrality becomes one of constantly
monitoring their own understanding and taking
ownership of it”
(Wilcox & Schaffer, p. 48)