We are grateful to be able to share with you three recorded lectures by Jemina Napier (Heriot-Watt University), the Chair Professor of our 2019 CETRA Research Summer School in Translation Studies. Special thanks go to the master’s student Liesbeth Pittomvils for having subtitled these lectures, under supervision of our colleague Luc Dierickx, in order to make them available to deaf people.
Interpreting Studies as linguistic ethnography: New theories, new methods
The term linguistic ethnography is an umbrella term for “a growing body of research by scholars who combine linguistic and ethnographic approaches in order to understand how social and communicative processes operate in a range of settings and contexts” (Shaw, Copland & Snell, 2015). The core goal of linguistic ethnography is to examine language use in context, so by that very definition, various qualitative research conducted within Interpreting Studies could be considered as falling under this umbrella. First, I will give an overview of linguistic ethnography and how it can be used to examine interpreter-mediated interactions, and will highlight existing interpreting research that could be considered within this framework. I will give examples from my own current research to discuss the benefits of using innovative, visual methods to examine experiences of professional and non-professional interpreter-mediated communication within a linguistic ethnographic framework; and I will also propose the affordances of examining interpreter-mediated communication through the theoretical lens of translanguaging, which is widely used by linguistic ethnographers to examine direct communication. Finally, I will explore how re-framing our approach to interpreting studies through linguistic ethnography may also lead to a re-framing of what we mean by mediated communication.
Participatory research methods in interpreting studies
A participatory research approach is a qualitative methodology that is inductive and collaborative and relies on trust and relationships. This approach is typically used in public health research studies, and has been used specifically to investigate migrant communities and interpreters in public health settings in Ireland (Macfarlane et al, 2009). Participatory research is an approach that enables positive user involvement and empowerment, and enables marginalised ‘hidden’ voices to be heard. Through purposeful sampling (Patton, 2002), ‘information rich’ stakeholder groups who have a depth of experience to share can contribute to the research process, thus ensuring that the research is conducted not just on, for and with people (Turner & Harrington, 2000), but also by people from stakeholder groups.
In this presentation I will reflect on previous research to consider an innovative, interactive approach to interpreting research methodology. This presentation will draw particularly on studies that I have led that have employed a participatory approach and incorporated phenomenological principles to investigate aspects of sign language interpreting. The studies also adopted interactive principles of collaboration between researchers and key stakeholders and thus embed a participatory approach within the research design. The key principles of participatory research will be outlined, with examples from the data. This presentation will highlight how we can use sign language interpreting research to inform methodological approaches to the study of interpreter-mediated interaction generally.
Exploring mixed-methods research design in interpreting studies
The design of community interpreting research studies can incorporate triangulation of research data using different methodologies in order to test or explore the same phenomena from different perspectives (Hale & Napier, 2014). This approach is typically referred to as ‘mixed methods’ (Johnson, Onwuegbuzie, & Turner, 2007) or ‘multi-method’ research (Brewer & Hunter, 2006), and is particularly popular in social science research. Some researchers would consider this as one of the major research paradigms equal to, and alongside, quantitative and qualitative paradigms (Johnson, Onwuegbuzie & Turner, 2007) that “provides increased power of persuasion and strengthened claims to validity” (Brewer & Hunter, 2006, p.xi).
Pöchhacker (2011) considers that the use of mixed-methods research designs in interpreting studies are appropriate in order to account for the level of complexity in exploring interpreting processes and practices. Employing such an approach enables researchers to draw on traditional research methodologies, but also allows scope for innovation in research design. One such innovative approach is the use of a participatory approach to research (Cornwall & Jewkes, 1995), which includes community stakeholders in the research process. As recommended by Luker (2008), as social science researchers we need to “play out of our shoes” and “think at a higher level of generality” (p.218), which means considering which research method(s) will enable us to answer the questions we have about interpreting.
In this presentation I will give an overview of how mixed-methods have been employed in the study of sign language interpreting in legal contexts, highlighting why these projects employ these methods and the benefits of exploring various mixed-methods approaches to interpreting research generally.