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ASL Interpreting:  "Bilingual Fidelity"

Considerations of interpreting in a diglossic community.

"Bilingual fidelity" in the context of interpreting between two languages, especially considering the concept of diglossia, can be understood as the ability to accurately and effectively convey the meaning, tone, and cultural nuances of a message from one language to another, and potentially back to the original language, while respecting the linguistic and cultural norms of both languages.

Diglossia refers to a situation where two dialects or languages are used by a single language community in different contexts. Typically, one dialect (the 'high' variant) is used in more formal, official, and written contexts, while the other (the 'low' variant) is used in informal, everyday situations.

Concepts to consider regarding bilingual fidelity:

Meaning Preservation: This involves ensuring that the original message's meaning is preserved during translation. This is not just about direct word-for-word translation but involves understanding the context, idiomatic expressions, and cultural references in both languages.

Tone and Register Adaptation: Interpreters (should) aspire to match the tone and register of the original message. For example, if the original message is formal, the translation should also be formal. This is particularly important in diglossic situations, where the choice between a language variant can significantly impact the message's reception.

Cultural Sensitivity: Recognizing and appropriately addressing cultural nuances and expectations in both languages. This is crucial in diglossic contexts where language choice can signify respect, authority, or belonging.

Retranslation Consistency: The concept of translating a message back into the original language and maintaining its integrity is a strong test of bilingual fidelity. It requires a deep understanding of both languages to ensure that nuances and specificities are not lost in a double translation process.

Code-Switching Awareness: In diglossic communities, speakers might switch between dialects or languages depending on the context. An interpreter with bilingual fidelity would need to understand why a speaker chooses one language variant over another and convey the same in the translated message.

Bilingual fidelity in interpretation, especially in diglossic contexts, is about much more than linguistic fluency; it requires cultural and contextual awareness, sensitivity to the nuances of both languages, and the skill to convey the intended meaning, tone, and cultural subtleties from one language to another and back again.




Also see: Revertability (in ASL interpreting)








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