Terry Janzen (CA) and Barbara Shaffer (US)

Saturday September 13th 2014

11:55 – 12:35      Terry Janzen (CA) and Barbara Shaffer (US)

“Stance Taking and Double Contextualization in the Interpreting Process”

Language users continually employ perspective-taking in their discourse, choosing from various subjective lexical, grammatical and discourse options available to them. These choices are not without semantic and pragmatic consequences. They reflect the subjective and intersubjective stance of speakers and signers (Janzen and Shaffer 2008, 2013). Perspective-taking is expressed in a variety of alternations, e.g., active/passive constructions, direct/indirect speech, selection of moods such as the subjunctive, conditionals, etc., deixis and indexing, and contextualization. Motivations for perspective-taking choices are pragmatic, whereas their consequences are at the lexical, grammatical, and discourse level.

While in everyday discourse, speakers make perspective choices at a fairly unconscious level, interpreters are left to rely on discourse evidence to tell them what the speaker has attempted to accomplish, thus they must assess what constructions are being used and search comparable constructions in the target language that have similar effects.

Contextualizing in discourse takes place for pragmatic reasons. It is an intersubjective discourse activity where the speaker/signer chooses contextualizing information based on what she believes her interlocutor does not have access to but needs to know with the goal of making her discourse as clear as possible. Importantly, the interpreter must deal with contextualizing twice: once in the source speaker’s text she apprehends, and once again in her own target text.

In this paper, we address both the function of double contextualization in the interpreting process and its effects. At times the interpreter’s contextualizing well reflects that of the source speaker, and times when it does not, based on differences in linguistic structure or language ecology, the interpreter’s assessment of intersubjective relationships in the interpreting triad or, in fact, the interpreter’s own knowledge base. We draw from examples of interpreters’ work when contextualizing source speakers’ discourse, and offer insights into the interpreting process that can inform interpreting pedagogy.