South African Sign Language used in Parliament: Is there a need for standardisation?

Selzer, Marsanne (2010-03)

Thesis (MPhil (General Linguistics))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: During interpreting in the National Parliament of South Africa, the South African Sign Language (SASL) signs used for terms frequently occurring in political debates appear to differ from one interpreter to the next. The question arises as to whether this could be a possible source of miscommunication, and, if so, whether there is a need for SASL to be standardised in order to promote successful communication and/or avoid misunderstandings while interpreting the proceedings of Parliament for a Deaf Member of Parliament as well as for Deaf members of the public. The present research set out to answer these questions. In order to do so, video-recordings were made of two parliamentary SASL interpreters each independently signing 10 English terms often used during Parliamentary sittings. These recordings were shown to three Deaf adults, from more or less the same linguistic background, who were tasked with writing down the meaning of each sign of each interpreter. Responses given by the informants were allocated marks and a total score was calculated to reveal the level of intelligibility of the signs of each interpreter. It was found that not one of the deaf adults could understand all 10 signs of any one interpreter, and that the signs used by the two interpreters for eight of the 10 English terms differed vastly. The answers indicate the possibility of miscommunication, which could be avoided if standardised terms were available for use in the Parliamentary environment.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Tydens tolking in die Nasionale Parlement van Suid Afrika blyk tekens in Suid Afrikaanse Gebaretaal vir terme wat gereeld in politiese debatte voorkom, te verskil van tolk tot tolk. Die vraag is of dit ‘n bron van moontlike wankommunikasie kan wees en, indien wel, of daar dan ‘n behoefte daaraan is om Suid-Afrikaanse Gebaretaal te standardiseer met die doel om suksesvolle kommunikasie te bevorder en/of om misverstande te vermy terwyl die verrigtinge van die Parlement getolk word vir die dowe Lid van die Parlement asook die dowe lede van die publiek. Die huidige navorsing is gedoen om ‘n antwoord op hierdie vrae te verkry. Vir hierdie doeleindes is video-opnames van twee parlementêre gebaretaaltolke gemaak. Elke tolk het onafhanklik van die ander een 10 Engelse terme getolk wat gereeld voorkom gedurende parlementêre sittings. Hierdie opnames is dan aan drie volwasse Dowes gewys, wat afkomstig was van ongeveer dieselfde taalagtergrond, wat die betekenis van elke tolk se gebare neergeskryf het. Tellings is aan die response van elke informant toegeken en die totale telling is uitgewerk om die vlak van verstaanbaarheid van die gebare van elke tolk uit te werk. Daar is bevind dat nie een van die Dowe volwassenes al 10 terme korrek kon verstaan nie en dat ag van die 10 Engelse terme grotendeels verskillend getolk is deur die tolke. Die antwoorde dui daarop dat daar ‘n moontlikheid van wankommunikasie bestaan, wat vermy kan word as gebaretaalterme gestandardiseer kan word in die parlementêre omgewing.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/4200
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