Translation across modalities : the practice of translating written text into recorded signed language : an ethnographic case study
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This study creates a space for analysing an emerging translational activity, the practice of translating written text into recorded signed language. With its non-prototypical modality pair of source and target texts, the activity neither matches existing conceptualisations of interpreting nor those of translation modes. In an ethnographic case study I investigate the translational mode displayed, paying particular attention to the translational process designed by the practitioner and the impact of source and target text modalities. Drawing on literacy and multimodality research, this work reaffirms that communication is embedded in social, cultural, historical and ideological contexts and foregrounds the involved (human and non-human) agents. Data generated through observation, interviews and analysis of source, target and preparatory documents reveal an event influenced by the intrinsic properties of text modalities, the translator’s socio-professional background, and socially constructed constraints and opportunities. Developing concepts of “translational practice”, “translational events” and “affordances”, I challenge the prototype-based dichotomy (translation/interpreting) used to conceptualise translational activity. By negotiating data of a non-central practice with theoretical concepts developed within Western Translation Studies, this research contributes to enlarging and de-centralising the discipline. Thickly describing one translational event, conceptualising written-signed translation practice and re-thinking central translational concepts, this study highlights implications for theory, pedagogy and the profession.