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Negotiating discursive norms

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In spite of the theoretically clearly defined task of an interpreter to translate only what was said by the other interlocutors, naturally occurring data taken from interpreted interactions show quite a different picture, as many previous studies have already indicated. The discursive norms to which an interpreter orients in reality are interactionally negotiated, rather than prediscursively determined. This article analyses these norms as interactional accomplishments in interpreted interactions that took place in a Belgian home for the elderly. This is not only a setting in which community interpreting has not been studied so far, but it is also a context that is ideally suited for this research topic, since its discursive institutional norms are not as strictly defined as in many other institutional settings, thus implying room for negotiating discursive norms on a turn-by-turn basis. The results demonstrate significant variation in the way breaches of interpreting norms are dealt with, both by the interpreter and by the professional, with the latter playing a particularly important role in shaping the norms that are observed in the course of the interaction. Finally, the implications of these deviations for the particular ‘activity type’ and the interpreter’s situated identity are discussed.
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Keywords: discourse analysis; discourse ecology; discursive norms; home for the elderly; situated identity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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  • International Journal of Research and Practice in Interpreting
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