Nor is any language “a vague language.” Rather, every language has vague language, just as every language has specific language. Vagueness is a natural phenomenon; not everything in life is certain, specific, accurate, or clear. Since things are sometimes vague, people must be able to use language to express this vagueness. ASL has ways of expressing vagueness; therefore, ASL has vague language in it — just as English and every other language has vague language it it. Any language is too complex to be labeled “a vague language.” Conversely, it is not reasonable to say that any language is “not a vague language” — except insofar as to say there is no such thing as “a vague language.”
I am thrilled to announce that my thesis has been published online, available for all to read. The title is “Keeping it Vague: A Study of Vague Language in an American Sign Language Corpus and Implications for Interpreting between American Sign Language and English” and the URL is short & sweet: http://digitalcommons.wou.edu/theses/2/
Thanks to all who expressed interest in reading this work; thanks to the Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies with an emphasis in Teaching Interpreting program at Western Oregon University (WOU); and, thanks to WOU for venturing into digital publication with our program’s master’s theses. It is an honor to be the second postgraduate student to publish a thesis on WOU’s Digital Commons repository.
Please do email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to discuss this thesis, and feel free to “talk amongst yourselves.”
Greene, D. J. (2013). Keeping it vague: A study of vague language in an American Sign Language corpus and implications for interpreting between American Sign Language and English. (Master’s thesis). Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.wou.edu/theses/2/
Last Friday morning, I successfully defended my thesis. This Wednesday afternoon, I submitted my thesis for publication on Digital Commons. The title is “Keeping it Vague: A Study of Vague Language in an American Sign Language Corpus and Implications for Interpreting Between American Sign Language and English.” Thanks to everyone who has cheered me on and expressed interest in my work! I will post the URL to the thesis paper as soon as it’s published. – Daniel Greene, MA.
After many months of work, I am going to send the penultimate draft of my master’s thesis to my thesis committee. I will await their feedback, make changes, and hope to defend before the end of February.
Doctor to patient: “Hi, I’m Dr. Y.” Doctor to me: “Oh, the patient’s deaf! So this isn’t interpreting; you’re a signer.” Meanwhile, I’m interpreting…
It seems there’s a stigma that an interpreter who works between a spoken language and a signed language is a “signer” while an interpreter who works between two spoken languages is an “interpreter” (not a “speaker”). I actually try to impress upon people that I am an “interpreter” by introducing myself as an “interpreter,” not a “sign language interpreter.” I want them to perceive me and treat me just as they would a spoken-spoken language interpreter. At this appointment, I introduced myself to the front desk as “the interpreter for your [x-o'clock] appointment with [Patient Y.]” I saw the receptionist tell the nurse I was the interpreter, and I saw the nurse tell the doctor I was the interpreter. So it should be! I know doctors are busy, so I don’t want to take too much time introducing myself and explaining the situation. I simply met the doctor where I was waiting for them outside the patient’s exam room saying, “Hi, I’m Daniel Greene, and I’ll be interpreting for you.” At the moment the doctor said this wasn’t interpreting and I was a signer I didn’t feel it was the right time to correct them. I didn’t even feel like it was the right time to correct them after the appointment, so I let it go. Now I’m reconsidering my introductions to consumers. I wonder if spoken-spoken language interpreters tell doctors what language the patient speaks. I could say, “I’ll be interpreting for you and Patient Y, who uses American Sign Language,” but one problem with that is that some d/Deaf people mouth or speak English with or without signing, and this can be a surprising change from the way they communicated with me in the waiting room before seeing the doctor. I also hesitate to say a consumer is “Deaf” because some consumers call themselves “hard-of-hearing.” I honestly don’t know if any amount of introduction or explanation would have dispelled this doctor’s perception of me as a “signer.” Still, it makes me rethink how I introduce myself to consumers. Just about every interpreting job I do leaves me with questions… isn’t what we do fascinating?
P.S. (January 5, 2013 7:21 PM) I thought about how the appointment went, and really the fact that the doctor did not recognize what I was doing as “interpreting” did not affect the interpretation or the interpreted event. If I had made an issue of it, it might have had an effect on the dynamic. The doctor’s statement wasn’t a snag in the communication between doctor and patient; it just gave me a micro moment of pause and a lingering thought about how people could think what we do is not interpreting. Very interesting… ’tis a puzzlement.