Sign Language Interpreters Often Clarify Details

Sign language interpreting is complex.  Due to different dialects, regions, and sign language variations which making using a local provider the best option.  However, with these variances, interpreters commonly clarify details in the exchange.  In many cases, frequent clarification should be expected.

Distinguishing Meaningclarify details

A D/deaf person’s upbringing and lifestyle may affect their language, and it is left to sign language interpreters to distinguish meaning.  The grammar in sign language is found primarily in body language and facial expressions.  If signed or spoken information is missing, the interpreter will need to stop and clarify details.  This will occur prior to producing an accurate interpretation.

Upbringing of D/deaf Individual

Depending on the type and/or quality of sign language a D/deaf or Hard of Hearing person is using may effect how often the interpreter asks for clarification. For example, if the D/deaf consumer grew up in a residential school, where they were surrounded by D/deaf peers, they may have a better grasp of standardized sign language.  On the other hand, the interpreter may need more clarification from someone who grew up in a household with little to no language. These examples are not comprehensive.  Every individual has their own background.

Intimate Knowledge of Names and Relationships

Also, as we reference in our blog about ASL sign names, the sign language interpreter may not know the English name of a person represented with a sign name.  Additionally, knowing the relationship (dad, brother, friend) between the subject and the person who is D/deaf may be important for an accurate English interpretation. For example, “My friend hit me, and it hurt.”

Unique Signs Created in a Specific Situation

Unique signs such as ASL sign names, home signs, and some signs created in an educational or occupational environment may be used in specific situations.  If not previously known, a sign language interpreter will often need to clarify details.  For example, in a school setting it is not uncommon that certain signs are created in the moment to talk about a topic.  Sometimes there is not a single language equivalent “sign” attached to a specific concept.  An interpreter who is not familiar with these signs will need to ask for clarification.

Language Mode: Visual vs. Verbal

Sign language is a visual language, so a visual representation of mental pictures is placed in a signers “space.”  This is where the story is portrayed.  The sign language interpreter will need to clarify the details if vital information is left out, forgotten, or missed.  This is so that the story is interpreted accurately.

Sign language has many variations, so a skilled interpreter will ask for clarification whenever they feel that it is needed.  This does not mean that the sign language interpreter does not have the knowledge to perform the interpretation.  It means they are taking the time to seek meaning, which is their job.

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