In public-sector services, such as the police, healthcare or social welfare, an interpreter may be required for dialogues involving young children from linguistic minorities. Interpreter-mediated dialogues with young children are, however, almost unexplored as a field of research. Against this background, an ongoing research project at Oslo University College is exploring various topics relevant to interpreting for young children. The research presented in this paper is based on an experimental pilot study of interpreter-mediated dialogues with young children. The discussion focuses on the challenges an interpreter may encounter when working with young children, as well as on the different interpreting strategies she may employ in response. The presentation is based on two types of data: 1) transcriptions of video-recorded experiments involving a professional interpreter, Norwegian children aged three to six, and an adult who spoke to the children in a foreign language (English); and 2) interviews with the interpreter who participated in these experiments.
As noted by Cecilia Wadensjö (1998), the functions of an interpreter include not only the role of translator, but also that of dialogue coordinator, including assisting in the flow of speech. Accordingly an interactional perspective has been applied when analyzing the dialogues in this experimental study. A key challenge for the interpreter as dialogue coordinator involves managing “turn taking” during the dialogue. How do interpreters employ different modalities and semiotic resources (Kress, 2010), such as voice, volume, speed and gesture, to address this challenge when interpreting for young children? This paper attempts to provide some answers by examining examples taken from video recordings of our experiments.
Kress, G. (2010). Multimodality: a social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. London: Routledge. Wadensjö, C. (1998). Interpreting as interaction. London: Longman.