Parisot, A.-M. et S. Villeneuve (2005) "The description of back-channelling for Quebec sign language (LSQ): A pragmatic tool used in interpreter training", International Society for Language Studies 2005, Montréal.
Interpreting is a particular act of communication
where both languages involved have to be mastered, from their linguistic to
their cultural aspects (Parisot aqnd Villeneuve, 2004). For interpreters, pragmatic
and linguistic abilities must be harmonised to the specific communication context.
The translation of the principal exchange between receiver and speaker is not
the only role of interpreters. As they enter another cultural world, interpreters
become an interface of the social identity of both participants in conversation
(Bélanger, 1995; 2000). As regard to the cultural point of view, studies
show that there are quantitative and qualitative differences among the form,
the function and the organization of signals (backchannels, turn-taking, etc.)
in the communication (Laforest, 1991).
Our presentation has three objectives: 1) to show the importance of both the relevance and the need for the description of backchannel signals within the training of French-to- LSQ interpreters, 2) to present a detailed description of manual and non-manual backchannels in LSQ, 3) to discuss the best way to interpret backchannels in various situations (i.e: Should all signals be interpreted?).
When interpreting, interpreters convey pragmatic contributions, whether verbal or non-verbal (Wadensjö, 1992; Roy, 1992). It is therefore essential for interpreters to develop their knowledge and command of cooperation signals such as turn-taking and back-channelling (Metzger and Bahan, 2001). Backchannel signals are verbal and non-verbal signals inserted (reception, support and stimulation) within an interaction by the receiver without interrupting the speaker's discourse. They signify the attentiveness of the receiver (Kerbrat-Orrechionni, 1990). Research in verbal (and sign) communication organisation shows that communication signals are essential for the flow of an interaction. If back-channelling signals are absent or not conform to the culture's usual practices, communication will be disrupted or broken. Consequently, pragmatic competence must be part of the training given to interpreters, whether they work with oral or signed languages (Jansen, 1997). For example, when interpreting in a signed language, the time lag between the speaker's discourse and that of the interpreter, may lead the speaker to misunderstand the meaning of the listening signals if the interpreter is not knowledgeable of all co-verbal aspects of the language he is interpreting. If interpreters do not learn the forms and functions of the pragmatic elements (turn-taking, back-channelling, etc.) of a sign language, they will tend to abide by the rules of the hearing majority's language (Humphrey, 1997).
Manual and non-manual backchannel interaction markers have been described in various signed languages: American Sign Language (Roy, 1989; Thibault, 1993), Filipino Sign Language (Martinez, 1993), Finnish Sign Language (Mcilvenny and Raudakoski, 1994), etc. These descriptions represent the same organisation models than those for oral languages conversations.
In order to describe the back-channelling signals in LSQ, we analysed video recorded data of two kinds: a triadic conversation and a face-to-face interview. In both cases, the subjects were born deaf and used LSQ as their everyday language. From this corpus, we propose a typology of back-channelling signals in LSQ based on form (gaze, nodding, etc.) and function (reception, support, etc.). These back-channelling forms are of two types: manual (the sign THAT'S IT) and non-manual (wrinkling nose). Our study not only aims to describe what happens in one particular sign language. Since our description fits with the interaction signals (turn-taking, handing out and giving up turns) in LSQ (Parisot, 1998), we also want to provide a dynamic interactive model of conversation in LSQ. This model will give us the material necessary to have a closer look at the issue of the interpretation of backchannels in LSQ.
Résumé court (50 mots) :
This talk present: 1) the importance of the description of backchannel signals within the training of French-to- LSQ interpreters, 2) a detailed description of manual and non-manual backchannels in LSQ, 3) a discussion on the way to interpret backchannels in various situations (i.e: Should all signals be interpreted?).