22 September 2009

'Are you having a laugh?' Interpreting humour and small talk in the workplace

Jules Dickinson is a BSL/ English interpreter employed predominantly in workplace settings. Her work examines the role of sign language interpreters in this domain, focusing specifically on instances of humour and small talk in workplace meetings.

Presenter: Jules Dickinson
Title: 'Are you having a laugh?' Interpreting humour and small talk in the workplace
Date: 30th September 2009
Time: 7pm - 9pm
Venue: Business Executive Centre, Heriot-Watt University, EH14 4AS (how to get there)
BSL/English Interpreter: Kyra Pollitt

All welcome!

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Over the last 30 years Deaf people have increased their presence in the modern workforce. As a result sign language interpreters are now employed in a domain that can present considerable challenges. Workplaces are predominantly organised, managed and maintained by hearing people, meaning that Deaf employees can face considerable barriers in participating fully in workplace interaction. Aspects of workplace discourse such as small talk and humour can be vital to the integration of employees.

Small talk enables employees to negotiate interpersonal relationships and is an essential skill to acquire in order to 'fit' into the work environment. Humour makes a complex contribution in most workplaces (Holmes 2007) and humorous banter is particularly challenging to interpret. If Deaf employees are excluded from small talk and humorous exchanges they may be ostracised and excluded, potentially to the detriment of their career progression.

Drawing on data from an ethnographic study of sign language interpreting within the workplace I will examine examples of interpreted workplace discourse and will explore the interpreter's role in negotiating and mediating small talk and humour. I will discuss the cultural differences between Deaf and hearing employees and highlight the effects that the interpreter can have on this type of interaction.

1 comment:

  1. Jules has kindly agreed to share her slides with anyone who would like a copy. (They can't be put online for copyright reasons.) Send us an email and we'll pass it on.