Title: Knowledge and context in community interpreting : a situated cognition perspective
Authors : Albl-Mikasa, Michaela
Conference details: First Conference of the Association for Translation Studies in Africa STIAS, Translation and context: Perspectives on and from Africa, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 25-26 May 2018
Issue Date: 2018
License (according to publishing contract) : Licence according to publishing contract
Type of review: Not specified
Language : English
Subjects : Community interpreting; Situated cognition
Subject (DDC) : 418.02: Translating and interpreting
Abstract: Research into community interpreting has been dominated by the descriptive analysis of discourse in interaction, or the “DI paradigm” (Pöchhacker, 2015: 68). Wadensjö (1998), in particular, paved the way to establishing this approach by adopting discourse analysis as a framework. Consequently, community interpreting has traditionally been described as a socially situated activity, while conference interpreting has always been modelled as a cognitively situated activity relying on knowledge-based inferences. Englund Dimitrova and Tiselius (2016) have come to conclude that the “body of research on community interpreting has to date focused mainly on aspects of the interpreter’s role in the interaction between interlocutors/participants and in the communication process”, at the expense of the cognitive processing dimension. In order to understand, in tune with the main theme of this ATSA Conference, how knowledge is to be seen relative to context, the cognitive perspective seems paramount. The intrinsic interdependence of (top-down) knowledge as part of interpreters’ competence and (bottom-up) influencing factors from the situational context during interpreter’s performance as well as the role played by the availability or lack of knowledge about the wider institutional, regional and cultural context, mentally represented as part of interpreters’ competence, can only be understood in the theoretical framework of situated cognition. This paper explores community interpreting as socially and cognitively situated cognition and outlines the theoretical framework. Based on data from a larger-scale study of medical and applied linguistics researchers from the University Hospital of Basel and the ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences respectively, it then illustrates how the lack of knowledge specific of a particular institution and context can often be at the root of unsuccessful doctor-patient communication. 19 video-recorded and transcribed interpreter-mediated doctor-patient encounters have been analysed. The results show that doctors follow through with an action plan which is closely linked up with institutionalized discourse patterns and routines with which they strive to fulfil their goals and purposes, such as compliance- and rapport-building on the part of the patient (Albl-Mikasa et al. 2017). When such knowledge, taken for granted by medical personnel, is missing on the part of the interpreters’, they will not be able to fully process the interactional complexity underlying the exchange and support its aims. Finally, the presentation will conclude by discussing with the participants what this cognitively oriented approach may mean for an African (institutional) context.
Departement: Applied Linguistics
Organisational Unit: Institute of Translation and Interpreting (IUED)
Publication type: Conference Paper
URI: https://digitalcollection.zhaw.ch/handle/11475/12538
Appears in Collections:Publikationen Angewandte Linguistik

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