Interpreting Vague Language: Beginning

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Interpreting Vague Language: Beginning

  1. 1. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 A Study in Vague Language - Beginning Daniel Greene, MA, NIC Master
  2. 2. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Who am I? Recently got my Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies, with an emphasis in Teaching Interpreting, from Western Oregon University, where I wrote my thesis “Keeping it vague: A study of vague language in an American Sign Language corpus and implications for interpreting between English and American Sign language.”
  3. 3. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Who are you? How many K–12 interpreters? How many postsecondary? How many community? How many legal/judicial? How many VRS/VRI? Have you ever encountered vague language in your work?
  4. 4. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 1 fifteen– minute break Agenda 3 CEUs3 hours =
  5. 5. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Questions? Stop me, or Wait-n-see, or Pass me a note, or Email me@danielgreene.com ?
  6. 6. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Workshop Description Participants will explore the phenomenon of vagueness and the expression of vagueness in language, study vague language (VL) theory, analyze the communicative purposes and social meanings of VL, and consider the variables involved in interpreting & translating VL.
  7. 7. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Learning Objectives 1.Define vagueness and give examples of vagueness in natural phenomena and social life. 2.Define vague language (VL). 3.Name at least five functions, or communicative purposes, of VL. 4.Describe where interpreters and translators confront VL and how they tackle it.
  8. 8. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Essential Questions How do people interpret vague language without an interpreter? How do interpreters interpret vague language?
  9. 9. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 What is Vagueness?
  10. 10. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Define: Vague vague |veɪg| adjective of uncertain, indefinite, or unclear character or meaning: many patients suffer vague symptoms. thinking or communicating in an unfocused or imprecise way: he had been very vague about his activities. DERIVATIVES vague•ness noun, vagu•ish adjective ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: from French, or from Latin vagus ‘wandering, uncertain’ (New Oxford American Dictionary).
  11. 11. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Williams, 1994 “A concept is vague: if the concept's extension is unclear; if there are objects which one cannot say with certainty whether belong to a group of objects which are identified with this concept or which exhibit characteristics that have this predicate (so-called "border-line cases"); if the Sorites paradox applies to the concept or predicate.”
  12. 12. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 The Sorites Paradox How many grains of sand do you have to remove from a heap of sand before it is no longer a heap?
  13. 13. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 What do you suppose is vague in the world, other than vague language?
  14. 14. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Borderline case: “The circle both is and is not next to the square.”
  15. 15. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 What color is this?
  16. 16. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 What color is this?
  17. 17. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Take a longer look…
  18. 18. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Vagueness and Communication
  19. 19. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Confusion is part of communication “…if communication depends on the construction of meaning from cues, and if communicators do not have direct access to others’ meanings or intentions, then what we should expect is partial communication. Successful communication requires our attention and explanation” (Wilcox & Shaffer, 2005).
  20. 20. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 How do you suppose people make sense of vague language?
  21. 21. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 The Toolmakers Paradigm “Imagine…a huge compound, shaped like a wagon wheel. Each pie-shaped sector of the wheel is an environment…at the hub of the wheel there is some machinery which can deliver small sheets of paper from one environment to another…people in these environments have learned how to use this machinery to exchange crude sets of instructions with one another— instructions for making things helpful to surviving…” (Reddy, 1993). 17% 17% 17% 17% 17% 17%
  22. 22. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Consumer Collaboration/Communication Model (Greene, 2011–2013) Some consumers are each other’s family, friends, classmates, coworkers, etc. They know each other better than the interpreter knows them. Some consumers communicate fairly well without an interpreter— using rudimentary language, contact language, facial expressions, gestures, writing, speech & lipreading (or signing when not calling through VRS) Some consumers know each other intimately and use vague language with each other in an intimate register that leaves the interpreter out.
  23. 23. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Consumer “Language A” Consumer “Language B” Language A+B Interpreter Consumer Collaboration = Group Membership Insider Knowledge Communication Strategies Cultural/Linguistic Fluency Cultural/Linguistic Fluency
  24. 24. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Working definitions of vague language
  25. 25. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Peirce, 1902 Quotation: “A proposition is vague where there are possible states of things concerning which it is intrinsically uncertain whether, had they been contemplated by the speaker, he would have regarded them as excluded or allowed by the proposition” (emphasis added). Translation: Something is vague when a person is uncertain whether or not it is a certain way. Does of a certain age extend to 80, 90? What does this & that include/exclude? How soon is soon? How many is a few? When is it past noonish— 12:05, 12:10, 12:15, 12:20? How cute is kinda cute?
  26. 26. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Peirce, 1902 (continued) “By intrinsically uncertain we mean not uncertain in consequence of any ignorance of the interpreter, but because the speaker’s habits of language were indeterminate; so that one day he regard the proposition as excluding, another as admitting, those states of things. Yet this must be understood to have reference to what might be deduced from a perfect knowledge of his state of mind; for it is precisely because these questions never did, or did not frequently, present themselves that his habit remained indeterminate.” (emphasis added)
  27. 27. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Channell, 1994 “An expression or word is vague if: 1.it can be contrasted with another word or expression which appears to render the same proposition; 2.it is purposely and unabashedly vague; 3.its meaning arises from the ‘intrinsic uncertainty’ referred to by Peirce.”
  28. 28. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Trappes-Lomax, 2007 “I tend to the more inclusive approach, taking as VL any purposive choice of language designed to make the degree of accuracy, preciseness, certainty or clarity with which a referent or situation (event, state, process) is described less than it might have been.”
  29. 29. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Greene, 2013 “VL is a set of linguistic forms people employ to moderate the accuracy, certainty, clarity or specificity of a statement.”
  30. 30. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Vague Language (VL) is not: Unfocussed, uninformative, sloppily constructed, poorly articulated, badly written, or incomprehensible to those who know the speaker. Ambiguous language like “porcelain egg container” or “The chicken is ready to eat” whose “vagueness” usually serves no social function. Language you don’t understand because you lack knowledge
  31. 31. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 VL is… Intentional Approximate Pragmatic Nonspecific Social Polysemous
  32. 32. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 VL is universal Found in every language studied so far, including ASL. Used more in speaking than in writing. Predominant in casual discourse but exists in formal discourse and “frozen” texts. A characteristic of native fluency.
  33. 33. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Where do you see VL? Intimate or casual conversations (street talk, slang) Teachers talking shop (professional jargon) Illicit or secretive exchanges (mischief, scheming) Frozen texts such as literature, film, music, theater What other kinds of VL do you interpret?
  34. 34. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Communicative Purposes of VL
  35. 35. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Why do you suppose people use VL?
  36. 36. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Purposes of VL reduce social distance, imply group membership, develop rapport be concise, relevant, informative, non-pedantic be flexible, allow for alternatives, collaborate, co-create meaning be polite, manage tension, save face, avoid losing face Promote group identity, protect individual identity Share blame/credit with others, avoid taking responsibility alone
  37. 37. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Paul Grice’s Conversational Maxims Maxim of Quantity: Be succinct. Say as much as necessary, but not too much. Maxim of Quality: Be honest. Only say what you have evidence for and believe to be true. Maxim of Relation: Be relevant. Make your contribution relevant to the interaction. Maxim of Manner: Don’t be ambiguous (or vague)
  38. 38. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Violating the Maxim of Manner “Indirect Strategies” (Brown & Levinson, 1987 in Hoza, 2007) Be ambiguous, be vague Overgeneralize Displace hearer Be incomplete, use ellipsis
  39. 39. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 “And you know what that means!” “Flouting the Maxims” and “Humorous Conversational Implicature” (Cutting, 2007) “Well you know what he’s like.” “…and you know what that means.” “…and I don’t have to tell you what that means.” How can we handle such implications?
  40. 40. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Interpreting vague language
  41. 41. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Interpreting is not the problem “The problem is not interpreting. It is not that English is indirect and that ASL is direct as Humphrey and Alcorn (2001) and others would have us view it. It is not that translation equivalents are hard to find (indeed, they are, but that pales in comparison to the real problem). It is not that ASL is direct and elaborative and relies on expansion techniques while English is indirect and non-elaborative (Lawrence 1995; Humphrey & Alcorn 2001). The problem is that our models of interpreting simply do not do justice to the act of communicating. In trivializing the cognitive work that is done whenever we communicate with another we fail to prepare interpreters for the awesome and mysterious task that they perform: speaking for another.” (Wilcox & Shaffer, 2005)
  42. 42. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Everyone is an Interpreter: Discuss! 1.“Speaking for another” does not minimize the “cognitive work that is done whenever [people] communicate with [each other].” They “work” at “interpreting” each other’s messages. 2.What kind of “work” do you do when you’re communicating with another in your first language? In your second language? Through an interpreter? 3.How much work should the consumers do, and how much work should the interpreter do? Why? 4.How do I know how much work they would do if they were speaking the same language in the same culture?
  43. 43. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 How do you suppose interpreters & translators handle vague language?
  44. 44. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Options for interpreting VL Vague to explicit Explicit to vague Vague to vague Ignore the vague Ask for clarification
  45. 45. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Found: translated texts less vague than source texts (Quantitative corpus studies by Olohan & Baker, 2000; Razuaité, 2010)
  46. 46. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 ASL is “the backbone of Deaf Culture” (National Association of the Deaf) “Language and culture are inseparable.” (folk wisdom) “Language is communication; while usually verbal, language can also be visual. … Culture, on the other hand, is a specific set of ideas, practices, customs and beliefs which make up a functioning society as distinct. … Finally, languages are not solely defined by their developing culture.” (Robin, WikiAnswers) “What has been written about Deaf culture (much of which is anecdotal, not empirical) should not be confused with what has been written about ASL (much of which is empirical, not anecdotal). (Greene, 2013) What is the relationship between language & culture?
  47. 47. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Challenging Stereotypes “Hearing are vague; Deaf are blunt.” (cf. Hoza, 2007) “Hearing are indirect; Deaf are direct.” (cf. Mindess, 1999) “Deaf people take a long time to get to the point.” (cf. Smith, 1996) “ASL is not a vague language” and/or “There is no vague language in ASL.”
  48. 48. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 NAD-RID CPC illustrative behaviors applicable to interpreting VL “render the message faithfully by conveying the content and spirit of what is being communicated, using language most readily understood by consumers” (2.3). “conduct and present themselves in an unobtrusive manner” (3.5). “demonstrate respect for consumers” (4.0). “facilitate consumer access and equality, and support the full interaction and independence of consumers” (4.4).
  49. 49. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 1. How do consumers communicate independently? Why do they do this? 2. How can I tell when consumers don’t need me? How can I get out of the way? 3. How can I tell when consumers need me? How can I step back in? 4.How do I know when to interrupt for clarification?
  50. 50. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Persecutor Rescuer Victim The Rescue Triangle
  51. 51. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 The rescuer gets to: Save the Victim, Be the Hero Meet their own needs Justify their own anger Keep the Victim dependent on them Feel good about themselves
  52. 52. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Interpreters = Interrupters? “Many teachers find the ‘lust’ to clarify and explain irresistible” (Rowland, 2007). Do interpreters have the lust?
  53. 53. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Should the interpreter interrupt? Are the consumers using VL? How can the interpreter tell? How might the interpreter defeat the purpose of VL by clarifying? What harm might the interpreter do by interrupting? What good might the interpreter do by interrupting?
  54. 54. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Drawbacks to Interrupting Breaks flow of conversation, throws off train of thought Shifts focus from consumers to interpreter Assumes responsibility for communication Deprives consumers of natural consequences, self-correction, and rapport Defeats the purpose of VL
  55. 55. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 VL Research and Literature
  56. 56. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Vague Language Joanna Channell, 1994
  57. 57. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Vague Language Explored Joan Cutting (Ed.), 2007
  58. 58. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 It’s Not What You Sign, It’s How You Sign It Politeness in American Sign Language (Jack Hoza, 2007)
  59. 59. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Spoken language corpora (all of which have been studied for vague language) Birmingham Collection of English Text Cambridge and Nottingham Corpus of Discourse in English (CANCODE) Cambridge and Nottingham Corpus of Academic English (CANCAD) Cambridge and Nottingham Subset of Corpus (CANSOC) Collins Birmingham University International Language Database (COBUILD) COURTCORP (trial talk in UK courts) Hong Kong Corpus of Spoken English (HKCSE) Limerick Corpus of Irish English (LCIE) Limerick and Belfast Corpus of Spoken Academic Discourse (LIBEL) Nottingham Health Communication Corpus (NHCC) Oxford Corpus of the English Language Parallel Corpus of the Lithuanian Language
  60. 60. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Signed language corpora (none of which have been studied for VL) Australian Sign Language Corpus (Auslan Corpus) British Sign Language Corpus Project (BSLCP) German Sign Language Corpus (DGS-Korpus) Netherlands Sign Language Corpus (Corpus NGT) Air Travel Information System (ATIS) German Sign Language (DGS) Irish Sign Language (ISL) South African Sign Language (SASL)
  61. 61. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 National Center for Sign Language and Gesture Resources (NCSLGR) The only ASL Corpus. Studied for vague language by one researcher— Greene, 2013.
  62. 62. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Wrap-up and Next up Evaluations, contact, next workshops
  63. 63. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 Contact Me at DanielGreene.com me@danielgreene.com
  64. 64. Created by Daniel Greene in 2013 A Study of Vague Language: Intermediate and Advanced Intermediate, 9a–noon: Participants will explore the forms of vague language (VL) in English and ASL; participants will categorize vague forms into parts of speech and learn how each part of speech fulfills its functions in language; participants will develop a vocabulary of VL in ASL and English. Advanced, 1–4p: Participants will search written, spoken, and signed texts for vague language (VL); participants will devise and perform translations for vague texts; participants will practice interpreting vague texts both consecutively and simultaneously; participants will analyze vague language in consumer interactions and make ethical decisions using critical thinking, including the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct and Demand-Control Schema.

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