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XIXth Biennial Conference of the European Association for Chinese StudiesParis, September 4th - 8th 2012       Coping with...
Previous research1. Dimensions of Non-Verbal Communication (NVC)  Proxemics  Haptics  Physical Appearance  Kinesics  ...
Previous research2. NVC in the framework of intercultural communication                  Harmony within the group         ...
Previous researchDimension      Non-verbal cue            Meaning / function as stated                                    ...
Objective and research questions  Studies focusing on interactions between Chineseand Mediterranean or Latin cultures are...
Method    Qualitative research  20 interviews to public serviceinterpreters and interculturalmediators working for the C...
Sample  15 women + 5 men  12 Chinese        Second generation immigrants (7)        Students (5)  8 non-Chinese     ...
Analysis – overall perception1. How do you think NVC influences communication  with the Chinese?a) 5 interviewees - “it is...
Analysis – overall perceptionc) 12 interviewees admit that there are some non-verbal cues that need to be explained and so...
Example 1 – differences in vocalics[INF18, 31:56,male, Latin American interpreter]A ver, tú estás hablando conmigo y yo te...
Example 2 – differences in the meaning of                   a smile[INF17, 30:73, female, Taiwanese mediator]El problema m...
Decoding the Chinese smile                                  赔笑 (péixiào) – compensating smile (Bi,                1998; S...
Example 3 – lack of eye contact[INF5, 37:101; female, Catalan mediator]“Com a molt, quan fem mediacions, que molts autòcto...
Decoding Chinese lack of eye contact                                                   Lack of eye contact also           ...
Conclusions  Non-verbal communication can play an importantrole in face-to-face interactions and is used as a face-work s...
Conclusions  Mediation in this kind of situationsshould be recognised and accepted as afunction even for interpreters in ...
Thanks!       Gràcies!       ¡Gracias!        Merci!        谢谢 !      mireia.vargas@uab.cathttp://pagines.uab.cat/mireia_vu/
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Coping with non-verbal communication in public service interpreting with Chinese immigrants

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PPT presented at the XIX Biennial Conference of the European Association of Chinese Studies (EACS), held at Paris (4th-8th 2012). It is based on my PhD dissertation (La interpretació als serveis públics i la mediació intercultural amb el col·lectiu xinès a Catalunya) and supported by Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and by InterAsia research group. It is part of the projects I+D+I MEC «El Impacto de Asia Oriental en el contexto español: Producción cultural, política(s) y sociedad» (FFI2011-29090) and «Inter-Àsia. Grup de recerca
interdisciplinari d’estudis d’Àsia oriental» (2009 SGR 1103).

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Coping with non-verbal communication in public service interpreting with Chinese immigrants

  1. 1. XIXth Biennial Conference of the European Association for Chinese StudiesParis, September 4th - 8th 2012 Coping with non-verbal communication in public serviceinterpreting with Chinese immigrants Mireia Vargas-Urpi Translation and Interpreting Department Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  2. 2. Previous research1. Dimensions of Non-Verbal Communication (NVC) Proxemics Haptics Physical Appearance Kinesics Paralanguage or Vocalics Chronemics Coping with non-verbal communication in public service interpreting with Chinese immigrants
  3. 3. Previous research2. NVC in the framework of intercultural communication Harmony within the group Conflict avoidanceCollectivism Face-work strategies High hierarchy to avoid losing mianzi High-context communication Indirect and implicit communication Important role of Non-verbal communication Coping with non-verbal communication in public service interpreting with Chinese immigrants
  4. 4. Previous researchDimension Non-verbal cue Meaning / function as stated in previous research Kinesics Smile To reestablish harmony / to avoid showing ( 赔笑,苦笑,微笑) negative feelings / to show engagement in a conversation Lack of eye contact To show respect or active listening ( 听话 ) Gaze ( 注视 ) To show attention Haptics Lack of physical contact Vocalics (Long) silences between To show active listening ( 听话 ) turns Scarce overlapping Scarce reactive tokens (嗯 ) To show active listening ( 听话 ) / to show agreement Coping with non-verbal communication in public service interpreting with Chinese immigrants
  5. 5. Objective and research questions Studies focusing on interactions between Chineseand Mediterranean or Latin cultures are scarce →Shed some light onto the role of NVC between theseparticular cultures NVC is crucial in face-to-face interactions, such asthe ones taking place nowadays in Public ServiceInterpreting, but to what extent are interpretersaware of that? How do they cope with NVCdifferences? Coping with non-verbal communication in public service interpreting with Chinese immigrants
  6. 6. Method Qualitative research 20 interviews to public serviceinterpreters and interculturalmediators working for the Chineseimmigrants living in Catalonia Interviews were transcribed and analysed by means ofAtlas.ti and basing on qualitative content analysis anddiscourse analysis Coping with non-verbal communication in public service interpreting with Chinese immigrants
  7. 7. Sample 15 women + 5 men 12 Chinese  Second generation immigrants (7)  Students (5) 8 non-Chinese  Catalan (5) and Spanish (1)  European (1) and Latin American (1) Coping with non-verbal communication in public service interpreting with Chinese immigrants
  8. 8. Analysis – overall perception1. How do you think NVC influences communication with the Chinese?a) 5 interviewees - “it is not so important”b) 9 interviewees - “Chinese are rather inexpressive so NVC is not really important” Differences in kinesics or vocalics Coping with non-verbal communication in public service interpreting with Chinese immigrants
  9. 9. Analysis – overall perceptionc) 12 interviewees admit that there are some non-verbal cues that need to be explained and some evenpinpoint some of them: smile (6) lack of eye contact (6) lack of contact when greeting (3) Coping with non-verbal communication in public service interpreting with Chinese immigrants
  10. 10. Example 1 – differences in vocalics[INF18, 31:56,male, Latin American interpreter]A ver, tú estás hablando conmigo y yo te puedo hacer alguna señal para decirte que yo te estoy entendiendo. ¡Ellos no! Ellos se quedan así [quietos], sin moverse. Pero entonces, tú no sabes si tu mensaje está llegando o no. Claro, la otra persona, sea un juez o un policía, le puede estar echando la bronca, le puede estar diciendo lo que sea, o estar haciendo una pregunta o un interrogatorio, y el chino está así [quieto, inmóvil]. Interesante... ¿no?For instance, you’re talking to me and maybe I’ll do some sign to let you know I’m understanding you. ¡They won’t! They just keep like this [still], without moving. But, then, you don’t know if they are getting your message or not. Of course, the other person, either a judge or a police, may be scolding him/her, or may be telling him/her whatever, or may be asking him/her something, or doing an interrogation, and the Chinese may be like this [still]. Coping with non-verbal communication in public service interpreting with Chinese immigrants
  11. 11. Example 2 – differences in the meaning of a smile[INF17, 30:73, female, Taiwanese mediator]El problema mayor, el gesto que causa mayor problema, y no logro aún explicar bien, es la risa, la sonrisa. Es que había un caso de un trabajador social, que ¡se enfadó tanto, por una sonrisa! Iba a llamar a la policía, en serio, en la entrevista. Decía: “¡Se ríe! ¡Encima, se ríe!”, y quería llamar a la policía. Bueno, es que pueden llegar a tener una reacción bastante fuerte, por la sonrisa de los chinos. Pero yo también me noto que no... ¡es que una sonrisa de un chino puede significar muchas cosas! [...]The biggest problem, the gesture that causes biggest problems and I still cannot explain it ok is the laugh, the smile. Once, there was a social worker who got so angry because of a smile! He even wanted to call the police, really, during the interview. He was saying: “He’s laughing! He’s even laughing!” and he wanted to call the police. Well, they may have really strong reactions to a Chinese smile. But I also notice that... a Chinese smile can mean so many things! [...] Coping with non-verbal communication in public service interpreting with Chinese immigrants
  12. 12. Decoding the Chinese smile  赔笑 (péixiào) – compensating smile (Bi, 1998; Sales Salvador, 2003; Sun, 2010)  苦笑 (kûxiào) – bitter smile (Sun, 2010)  微笑 (wëixiào) – gentle smile (Yang, 2007)Both 赔笑 and 苦笑 require some kind of mediation by the interpreter to avoid misunderstanding Coping with non-verbal communication in public service interpreting with Chinese immigrants
  13. 13. Example 3 – lack of eye contact[INF5, 37:101; female, Catalan mediator]“Com a molt, quan fem mediacions, que molts autòctons diuen «Porque encima, pasa por mi lado, y ¡no levanta ni la cabeza! ¡Ni me mira a la cara!», no? I llavors els hi expliques: «Bueno, no es que baje la cabeza, es que en realidad es como un signo de... como de respeto, porque no habla el idioma, como de vergüenza, que no quiere enfrentarse...».”Maybe, when we are mediating, it happens that many local people say: “Well, on top of that, he passes by and he does not even raise his head! He does not even look at me!”, you know. And then, you have to tell them: “Well, it’s not that he bows his head, in fact, it’s like a sign of... a kind of respect, because he doesn’t speak your language, it’s like he’s feeling embarrassed, as if he doesn’t want to confront you...” Coping with non-verbal communication in public service interpreting with Chinese immigrants
  14. 14. Decoding Chinese lack of eye contact Lack of eye contact also requires some kind of mediation by the interpreter[INF20, 34:68; female, Chinese mediator]“[P]erò sí que hi ha alguns xinesos que quan parlen amb la gent, no els miren. Llavors jo els aviso, els dic que a Espanya, això és senyal de falta d’educació. Els dic que quan parlen amb els altres, els han de mirar, els aviso.”But, actually, there are some Chinese who don’t look at other people when talking to them. Then, I warn them, I tell them that in Spain, this means lack of politeness. I tell them that when they talk to other people, they have to look at them, I warn them. Coping with non-verbal communication in public service interpreting with Chinese immigrants
  15. 15. Conclusions Non-verbal communication can play an importantrole in face-to-face interactions and is used as a face-work strategy (mianzi) by the Chinese. Most interpreters and mediators show some kind ofawareness. Differences in NVC can actually be the source ofmisunderstanding as the examples have shown. Coping with non-verbal communication in public service interpreting with Chinese immigrants
  16. 16. Conclusions Mediation in this kind of situationsshould be recognised and accepted as afunction even for interpreters in legalsettings – and, therefore, included in PSIcourses. Other kinds of mediation should beenhanced in order to help developintercultural skills in both public serviceproviders and Chinese users (leaflets,talks, etc.). Coping with non-verbal communication in public service interpreting with Chinese immigrants
  17. 17. Thanks! Gràcies! ¡Gracias! Merci! 谢谢 ! mireia.vargas@uab.cathttp://pagines.uab.cat/mireia_vu/

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