Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

researching the edges

by • October 1st, 2007

I have always felt that the action most worth watching is not at the center of things but where edges meet.

Anne Fadiman. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.
1997. (Preface, p. viii.)
The Review linked above does criticize Fadiman for overromanticizing some aspects of Hmong culture, history, and customs; what reviewer Mai Na M. Lee calls “the bigger issues.” In particular, she criticizes Fadiman’s conclusion that Hmong are “differently ethical.” The phrasing itself is curious, requiring some serious parsing. The way I read the phrase, Fadiman is asserting that ethics are as foundational and valued among the Hmong as within any people. The use of “differently” (instead of the starker label of “different”) – refers to the ethics being performed or based “in a different manner.” It seems to me this opens up comparision on the basis of more, rather then less, similarity. Dr. Lee did not read the phrase this way, interpreting its meaning as more distancing (differencing?) than joining.
Dr. Lee has the benefit of context; I have not yet read that far. There is a Bakhtinian movement discernable here: the counterplay of centripetal and centrifugal forces in the utterances of

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i think contiguously

by • September 18th, 2007

Seriously! Roman Jakobson (Prague School Linguist, functionalist), describes a kind of aphasia that brings the distinctions between metaphoric and metonymic speech. Metaphoric speech operates by substitution – you say something, I say something about another thing that reminds me of that thing you said – it “re-fills” the same space by replacement of an equivalent. Metonymic speech jumps levels, instead of substitution, you say something, and I say something related in terms of meaning but operating at a different position within a realist hierarchy.
While reading The metaphoric and metonymic poles today (subsequent to a few other articles, too) I became convinced that simultaneous interpreters can orient themselves to the performance of interpretation as verbal art, possibly even a kind of poetry. Some already do, but I think these are possibly a minority? Or, perhaps the dominant paradigm prevents full admission of the poetic latitude often exercised. 🙂

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reducing art to programming :-(

by • September 16th, 2007

I have a mixed reaction, leaning to the negative, concerning news of a software translation program for British Sign Language. The avatars look cool, and the idea is neat, but I cannot imagine that Artificial Intelligence has suddenly improved so much that the translations represent a wide swath of potential meanings instead of a cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all reduction to dictionary definitions.
I was surprised at the endorsement from the Royal National Institute for Deaf people (RNID), until I looked at their website. I admit, I have not looked all that closely and do not know any contextualizing history…but the RNID is registered as a charity and the products on the home page are geared to late-deafened and hard-of-hearing people, not the culturally Deaf who use BSL as their native language.
In other words, the avatar system might work just fine for people using BSL now but whose first language is English. Notice the difference in the homepage of the British Deaf Association Sign Community. In fact, looking at their internal link on language, I’d say it looks like the most useful thing allies and advocates can do is make BSL legal and – therefore – subject to anti-discrimination law.

BSL

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bilingual announcement (Spanish/English)

by • September 10th, 2007

2007 Ct River Cleanup — Holyoke
You’re invited! Canoes, kayaks, riverbank scrambling, scuba divers — and a
river left cleaner than when we arrived! (To continue reading this in English, please look further down!)
Limpieza del Rio Connecticut de 2007 — Holyoke
¡Ud. Está Invitado a Participar! Canoas, kayac, cruzando la orilla del río, buzos – ¡y un río más limpio de que cuando llegamos a hacer la limpieza!
La 11a Anual Limpieza del Río Connecticut “Source to Sea” – Patrocinado en cuatro estados por el Concilio de la Cuenca del Río Connecticut y por New England Family Farms Milk, y aquí en Holyoke por los Amigos del Río de Holyoke.
La limpieza “Source to Sea” es un evento annual de un solo día que tomará lugar desde el norte de New Hampshire hasta el océano, organizado por el Concilio de la Cuenca del Río Connecticut, y por comunidades locales a lo largo del Río Connecticut y sus afluentes.
Los Amigos del Río de Holyoke participarán en la Limpieza “Source to Sea” el sábado, 29 de septiembre de 2007. Estamos trabajando juntos con el Club de Buceo del Pioneer Valley, Appalachian Mountain Club Berkshire chapter, y otras organizaciones locales y personas de la comunidad. Nuestro foco

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Instruction in ASL

by • September 9th, 2007

I should have watched these training clips about using a Blackberry before signing my presentation in class the other day! The discourse structure of ASL is evident in each clip: first, the point, second – the illustration, third, the point again/expanded. One can watch how technical terminology is introduced and then incorporated naturally – with the side effect of contributing to the standardization of new terms in the lexicon. (I notice he does not fingerspell “email” for instance, which will annoy at least a few of my purist friends!) There’s evidence of contextualization: the same sign is used for “escape” and “sprint” – illustrating how meaning coheres in different combinations of signifiers/signifieds within different languages. (Hence, why interpreters, when asked, “What’s the sign for _______?” usually say, “It depends.”) Finally, there is much to notice about the logic of the visual in ASL.
This is an area in which (it seems to me), non-deaf people need serious education. I, myself, am still learning how to shift out of the linearity of sound-based logic to the three-dimensionality of the visual – eighteen years (!) after I began to learn ASL. One of the most

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Performing Research

by • September 8th, 2007

Five minute presentation of proposed research on interpretation at the European Parliament. More info: http://www.reflexivity.us/blog/archives/002655.html

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Interpreted Music

by • September 7th, 2007

God is a DJ, by Faithless.
The signer is using British Sign Language (note the two-handed alphabet for “D” and “J”). He seems to rely on a literal translation, taking few liberties with BSL’s capacity to generate meaning beyond the coded English. Since I do not actually know BSL, this is just an impression, but notice the production difference between the song lyrics and the clip of Deaf Britons talking. I’m not referring to the stylistic use of no facial expression – I assume this is an aesthetic choice by the interpreter – rather, the difference in the general animation of the language in use.
Cool. Very very cool. 🙂 Thanks David!

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