The Art of Interpreting Review

The Art of Interpreting

Video Review by Chris Wixtrom     © 2000

The Art of Interpreting
by Bennett B. Border
Hayden-McNeil Publishing Inc.
book (164 pp.), video, CD-ROM 1996

Distributed by:
Evergreen Sign Language Jewelry and Gifts
9 North Street, P.O. Box 60,
Onancock, VA 23417
Phone: 888.787.1951
Fax: 757.787.8555

This user-friendly basic interpreting set (with book, video, and CD-ROM) offers one of the most painless presentations of ASL grammar on the market. Whereas some intimidating ASL learning programs almost dare students to capture rapid signed examples and complex linguistic concepts, the tone and style of the Art of Interpreting imply that the author and sign models hope students will succeed in learning this material.

The book begins at the beginning, explaining the interpreting process with a gentle introduction to language origins and cultural interchanges. Cartoon-style panels and a few photographs accompany the text. Sample phrases and sentences used as examples throughout the book are fully illustrated on both video and CD-ROM. One slight flaw in the video samples is the sign models' tendency to mouth English words along with ASL sentences, in lieu of more natural non-manual facial expressions.

Strong emphasis is placed on the linking of culture and language. Five levels of language use are described: tangible, ambiguous, emotional, idiomatic, and poetic or musical. The nuance and challenge of the interpreting task rises with each level. Interpreters, Borden warns, must never content themselves with robotic translation of words or signs. Rather, interpreters should strive to "become true linguistic experts," accurately conveying both spirit and content. Borden envisions interpreting as a high calling replete with rewards, including opportunity to more deeply appreciate the "vibrant, powerful and loving culture" of the Deaf community.

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