American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual-spatial language that differs from spoken language, such as English. One way is in the use and characteristics of pronouns (Meier, 1990). Pronouns in ASL, for example, are created by pointing to objects or locations in space (written in English here as POINT), and do not have a gender assigned to them as they do in English (he, she, him, her). So, where it is not specified in ASL, interpreters must decide how to interpret pronouns into English. Limited research has been done on this topic (Quinto-Pozos et al., 2015), and so a study was created to address this gap. A cohort of 22 interpreters volunteered to translate four stories from ASL into English concerning four different occupations: engineer, truck driver, elementary teacher, and secretary. The first two were chosen as professions most frequently employing men and the latter most frequently employing women (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018). The researchers compared the number of references in the ASL stories (POINT) to the number of pronouns included by the interpreters and looked at the gender, if any, the interpreters assigned. The findings of this study indicate 11 different strategies for dealing with the gender-neutral POINT, where the use of “they” was most frequent. No one used “he or she” nor the more recent non-binary, gender-neutral “ze.”
McDermid, Campbell; Bricker, Brianna; Shealy, Andrea; and Copen, Abigail
"Gendered Translations: Working from ASL into English,"
Journal of Interpretation: Vol. 29
, Article 1.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unf.edu/joi/vol29/iss1/1
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