Saturday, 16 July 2011

"Training for more liberal translation; from the lessons of interpreting course in Japan" - Harumi Kimura & Noriko Miyazawa

We are teaching at the NRCD College. There is unfortunately no university training programme. Ours is government funded, there is one more that is privately funded.

Japanese spoken language and sign language are very different in structure. The aim is to teach the students to break away from their source language and so they can learn how to interpret into their target language. They are first taught how to converse in Japanese Sign Language, before they are taught how to interpret in the second year.

For the students to understand the different structure of the language we have taken a comic from the English training programme. This comic will assist in learning how to construct language. We show this story told by a native speaker of Japanese and by a Japanese signer.

There are several differences. Differences at the discourse level:
  1. such as the incorporation of the time aspect
  2. action chain + referential shift
The students are strongly influenced by the source language and it is very difficult to break away from this and to actually interpret correctly into Japanese Sign Language. So the first thing we teach is interpreting from Japanese Sign Language to spoken Japanese. We show a 1 to 2 minute video clip, easy to understand daily experiences.

I ask them first to write down sign by sign and then they see that this is a very different structure from Japanese Sign Language. We then continue to really see the text as a whole and try to put the structure into correct spoken Japanese. Only when they see this structure and realise the difference, they then know how to interpret better.

There are six main characteristics that are different between the two languages, I will discuss four of them here:
  1. Presenting two opposites 
  2. Explaining the situation
  3. Action chain
  4. Explaining the state
So when the students understand the different structures they can break away from the Japanese.

Now when teaching interpreting from Japanese to JSL, we first start at the sentence level and not at the discourse level. The presenters give several examples of the sentence structures. After the sentence level training, we train the discourse level. For example, we give the students a newspaper article. They must read this, put the article away and then sign the article in JSL. 

In Japan discourse level training is not yet fully in place. But from the students we learn what their problems are in understanding the structure of JSL.

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