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Interpreter-mediated scriptures

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There has been little empirical research into the practice of interpreter mediation of biblical discourse by natural (untrained) interpreters. As a contribution to this under-researched field, this paper first describes the sociolinguistic setting, the attitudes of participants, and the modes in use — short-segment consecutive and sight interpreting — in a group of Gambian churches where biblical discourse is rendered from English into Manjaku, the language of an immigrant community. Little is understood of the processes by which untrained bilinguals gain recognition in their communities as gifted interpreters. To address this issue, the paper investigates the interpreters’ performances for evidence of audience design, with particular attention to the output of two experienced and respected interpreters in the group. The findings indicate that they interpret biblical discourse in a highly communicative and persuasive manner, accommodating to audience expectations; and that they show a strong sense of responsibility to convey source text meanings faithfully, which is also expected of them by their audiences, though this is not always achieved with the same degree of success. Some suggestions are made for training at the level of fidelity.
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Keywords: Africa; audience design; natural interpreters; oral Bible translation; short-segment interpreting; sight interpreting; untrained interpreters

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 30, 2010

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  • International Journal of Research and Practice in Interpreting
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