In interpreter-mediated interaction, the issue of attribution and acknowledgment of rights to express knowledge is a rather complex and important one.

By Laura Gavioli (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia)

In interpreter-mediated interaction, the issue of attribution and acknowledgment of rights to express knowledge is a rather complex and important one. Interpreters possess knowledge acquired from participants in talk during preliminary briefings, during the encounter or from their experience in participating in other similar events; such access to knowledge gives them the possibility to interpret contents which are not fully explicated and render them explicitly (Mason 2006). So, the necessity of interpreting and rendering what is behind the turns accounts for the interpreters’ access to information. Interpreters, however, have access to and deal with information another participant is supposed to be more knowledgeable about; it may thus be interesting to see how interpreters’ and other participants’ “territories of knowledge” are negotiated in interpreted talk.

Laura Gavioli is a professor of English Language and Translation at the University of Moderna and Reggio Emilia, Italy.  Over the last 10 years, her research has revolved around the study of dialogue and interpreting in community settings such as hospitals, and in business settings. For more information available click here.

Professor Gavioli will explore the complex space of territories of knowledge with an analysis of naturally-occurring audio-recorded interactions, from different settings, interpreted by either experienced mediators or interpreters.  The analysis will be done using instruments derived from Conversation Analysis (Sacks et al. 1974). In Conversation Analysis, the notion of “epistemics” has been used to refer to socially distributed rights to knowledge (see e.g. Heritage, 2008) and to how participants in the interaction negotiate their rights and obligations to take action in conversation, including their dealing with particular issues.

With this notion in mind, Professor Gavioli will examine two cases. The first comes from medical settings. In doctor-patient mediated interactions, doctors use particular turn structures to call in and authorize the interpreter to deal with topics that are presented as critical, or delicate, or of particular importance. The second comes from tourist settings.  In this case, particular interactional dynamics are used by which interpreters are “authorized” to explain relevant issues and legitimised to deal with particular contents, in particular ways.

The talk will highlight dynamics which orient the distribution of the rights to knowledge among the participants in the interaction and consequently their responsibilities for performing certain actions in talk.  It will offer a perspective to explain the mechanisms of authorization and legitimisation in performing actions in interpreter mediated interaction and what the responsibilities the interpreter holds.

Heritage J. (2008) “Conversation analysis as social theory”, in B. Turner (ed), The New Blackwell Companion to Social Theory, Blackwell, Oxford, 300-320.

Mason I. (2006) “On mutual accessibility of contextual assumptions in dialogue interpreting”, Journal of Pragmatics 38, 359-373.

Sacks H., Schegloff E. & G. Jefferson (1974) “A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking in conversation”.  Language, 50, 696-735.



AuthorCritical Link International