“Interpreting in institutional interaction: Sociolinguistic challenges in Denmark as a globalized society”

What does interpreting guidelines show about interpreting? What does the users of interpreters expect? And how does it compare to what interpreters are doing in reality?

Interpreters are a priceless help, when people without the same language skills has to understand each other. But few people is interested in what interpreters are actually doing in Denmark and why they make certain strategic choices. In this presentation Karrebæk and Kirilova will talk about their findings in a sociolingvistic project about foreign language interpretation in the public sector. They will discuss why it doesn’t make sense to put emphasis on “accuracy” and “precision” or insisting on the interpreter should be invisible.

Martha Sif Karrebæk is a professor in multilingualism/Danish as a second language a the University of Copenhagen. She works with encounters between people with different language backgrounds in Denmark Karrebæk has examined language acquisition, interaction and linguistically constructed social meanings in kindergartens, primary schools, first language education, restaurants, therapy and the court. She has just embarked on a project on health care professionals educated abroad.

Marta Kirilova is a tenure track assistant professor in Danish as a second language at the University of Copenhagen. Her primary interest is in multilingualism and Danish as a second language in the workplace. Kirilova has researched attitudes towards immigrants in the Danish society, job interviews with foreigners, internationalization at universities and recently interpreted court preceedings and psycotherapy sessions.

10.45-11.45 & 13.00-14.00 Workshops

“The sign language interpreter in the complex grammar of the court proceeding”

On a day of work interpreters often meet professionals with a strong career identity and a high status in society. That being i. e. judges, lawyers and prosecutors. This group of professionals is also inclined to emphasize the importance of the linguistic nuances in the institutional conversations and meetings they take part in. At the same time they might lack understanding of the task of the interpreters. An example that often occurs is long passages of text bering read aloud without allowing the interpreter to read it beforehand. The court can refuse to make written material available citing a misconstrued reference to confidentiality or the principle of orality or the principle of immediacy. When the interpreter is denied access to information that is crucial to delivering a decent quality – with all linguistic nuances – the legal rights of the deaf user might be jeopardised.

To make it possible for the interpreter to deliver interpretation of good quality, the work environment in the juridicial institutional conversation must be adapted to allow interpreting to occur.

The presentation will elaborate on a broad scale on what it takes to adapt the conditions of the legal setting interpreting to allow good and sound interpretation. The presentation will be based on experiences from Danish court proceedings with sign language interpreters present and from teaching of sign language interpreters. The presentation will also use the participants own experiences with interpreting in court.

Anne Vikkelsø is master of law since 1995 and is working as head chief legal officer at CFD.There she has been responsible for multiple continuing training programmes about interpreting in a legal setting for sign language interpreters and deaf sign language interpreters. Furthermore she has trained sign language interpreters in rules regarding confidentiality, GDPR among other things. She also has a broad experience with teaching legal subjects to other groups of professionals. As vice chairman of The Danish Deaf Association and as a legal officer at The Equal Opportunities Centre for Disabled Persons, Anne has been very interested in human rights and equal opportunities and treatment of people with disabilities. Today she also gives volunteer legal advice to deaf citizens in sign language as a cooperation between Copenhagen Legal Aid and the Danish Deaf Association.

How well do you know those you interpret for? Interpretation for recently immigrated deaf citizens.”

In a conversation with deaf citizens where an interpreter is present, a social worker may not think about adapting their language to the benefit of their conversation partner. Neither have they a sense of the degree to which their deaf counterpart understands what they are trying to express. The interpreter, therefore, will often find themselves in a situation in which they have full responsibility for the communication. But how well does the interpreter know the person, they are working for?

In this workshop we will present you with the daily challenges faced by recently immigrated deaf citizens when confronted with the public sector and services. We will furthermore mark out the cultural and linguistic differences, that are contributing factors to these challenges. As teachers at CSV, we have daily contact with and extensive knowledge about this group. The workshop will make way for reflections on this subject and encourage discussions with other professionals working with deaf citizens.

Tabita Hegelund Pehrsson and Joseffa Pernille Funk are employed at Center for Special Education for Adults (CSV) where they teach Danish sign language and Danish written language. Their students are often recently immigrated deaf citizens who need instruction in Danish language and culture, to ease them with their adaptation to Denmark.
Both Tabita and Joseffa are former sign language interpreters.

“Signs from a pioneer: Relaying information effectively to the deafblind”

Dorte Eriksen is deafblind and will talk about misunderstandings in tactile signing between her and her Swedish sister, who is also deafblind. She will also talk about her experiences with receiving good tactile sign language interpreting.
Lastly she will tell us about haptic signals and the book “103 Haptic Signals” of which she was co-author.

You have the opportunity to see a lively, present and cordial talk from a true pioneer.

Dorte Eriksen is deafblind. She was born deaf, and has gone blind because of Usher 1. She has been an active part of the Danish Association of the Deafblind (FDDB), and is a pioneer in the field of haptic communication.

“Huh?  – How do we manage trouble in (interpreter mediated) conversation”

Learning languages and knowing languages include more than vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. To successfully participate in conversation or to interpret in conversation in any language(s) also requires skills in how to make contact, how to greet someone, how to mitigate requests etc. In signed languages, examples can be how to request the attention of a crowd, or only one specific person in a crowd, how to signal that you have to close the conversation, how to walk and talk outside without physical hazard etc. One area within this ‘interactional competence’, which is rather crucial to interpreters, is how to manage trouble of perception and understanding, i.e. ‘conversational repair’. How do we announce that we did not understand or perceive what was just said – in an idiomatic and recognizable way, – in the two languages? Interactional competence is to a very limited degree taught, and also rarely corrected in conversation. This presentation will give a brief account of findings from research on conversational repair in Norwegian Sign Language (NTS) and discuss consequences of these to interpreters.

Kristian Skedsmo is a Norwegian sign language interpreter (since 1994), has been teaching interpreting since 1997 and currently works as an associate professor at the sign language and interpreting program at OsloMet.


“Preservation and development of the Nordic sign languages – whose responsibility?

This presentation is about how to preserve and develop the Nordic sign languages, and who has the responsibility of doing it.
Janne will also talk about where the responsibility lies in regards to maintaining and developing the sign language skills of sign language interpreters.

Janne Boye Niemelä is a Master of Linguistics working at the subdivision for Danish Sign Language at The Danish Language Council. Janne informs and guides people regarding Danish Sign Language, and leads the way for coorperation with relevant interest groups and institutions within the area of Danish Sign Language.

“If You Know Where It Is Going, You Can Jump on Board“

Preparation of Sign Language Interpreters and Its Effect on the Quality of the Interpretation.

Sign language interpreters mostly work using simultaneous interpretation. While working they listen to, or look at, what is said in the source language, connect and compare it with their own knowledge, translate it into the target language and present their interpretation in that language, all at the same time. The cognitive load is therefore great.

The purpose of this Masters thesis is to enhance the quality of sign language interpretation by examining the effect of preparation on the cognitive load of interpreters and its relationship to the quality of sign language interpretation. The results of the study show that preparation both increases the interpreters’ understanding of the topic and facilitates their presentation of the interpretation. These factors reduce the cognitive load. Statistical data showed that in unprepared interpretations almost 20% of the main points to be interpreted were lost, but only about 10% in prepared interpretations. The results therefor indicate that it is important for sign language interpreters to have the opportunity to prepare before their assignments. It reduces their cognitive load while interpreting, which increases the quality of the interpretation.

Hólmfríður Þóroddsdóttir graduated from the University of Iceland with a BA-degree in Sign Language Interpreting in 2010, and with a MA-degree in Multicultural Studies in 2022. After having worked as an interpreter atthe Comunication Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, she is now the Project manager of video storage and preservation at that same institution.