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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versión On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versión impresa ISSN 0041-4751


KOTZE, Herculene. The role perceptions of educational interpreters in South Africa. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2016, vol.56, n.3, pp.780-794. ISSN 2224-7912.

The aim of this article is to report on one aspect of a study which investigated the role of the educational interpreter. The study attempted, among other things, to determine what the role perceptions of educational interpreters are. The findings of the study pointed to a discrepancy between interpreters' perceived "correct" role and what takes place in reality, as discussed by Kotzé (2012; 2014:127-145). This current article revisits the qualitative data, and specifically attempts to identify themes relating to the role fulfilment of educational interpreters. This is done in order to determine why educational interpreters make specific role-fulfilment choices. The data consists of 188 minutes of recordings made during interviews and/or focus group discussions which took place during 2009. The chosen data collection method was based on availability sampling, because it simplifies the data collection process and respondents are more easily accessible (Babbie & Mouton 2014:166; Maree ed. 2010:177). The qualitative methods which were used, included observations, structured interviews and focus group discussions (Creswell 2009:150). While observation was used in each case (Creswell 2014:219; Maree ed. 2010:263), a choice was made between a structured interview and focus group discussions, and iterations were followed until data saturation was achieved. Based on the findings and discussion of data, three key issues are evident. The first is that Niska's role pyramid for community interpreting (2002:137-138) and Kotzé's call for a more dynamic role model for educational interpreting (2014:141) are confirmed and motivated. It cannot be expected of the educational interpreter to commit to only one role description, but the interpreter should be given room to fulfil many role descriptions - even within the same interpreting event. These findings also reiterate the necessity of a more dynamic role model: the educational interpreter must be allowed to utilise specific tools in order to successfully cope with the challenges of educational interpreting. The second finding is that the educational interpreter's role is influenced by his position in relation to the other role players in the communication triad. The reason for this is that issues such as body language, relationships that have developed among the parties in the interpreting event, and the interpreter's sense of responsibility (Olivier 2008:110) all come into play. The educational interpreter finds himself in a situation which necessarily leads to communication with the users of the service inside (by means of body language during an interpreting event) and outside each interpreting event. There are indications that as a result of these relationships, the interpreter may feel increasingly responsible for the users, more so than is normally expected of an interpreter. In turn, this points to an expansion in the role of the educational interpreter, as can clearly be seen when educational interpreters fulfil a more facilitative role - something which is not supported as part of conventional interpreting practices. Lastly, it seems as though educational interpreters are still trained to view the well-known "channel" role as directional. In essence, the channel role can be employed successfully to achieve an accurate interpreting product. However, it appears that when this role is applied prescriptively, it can be perceived by educational interpreters as too limiting and it can even create uncertainty in terms of role fulfilment.

Palabras clave : Translation; interpreting; interpreter; educational interpreter; educational interpreting; role fulfilment; role models; role perceptions.

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