Sample Interpretations

Sample Interpretations by Doug Bowen-Bailey

The following video are interpretations done from the video on the previous page. Daniel Durant, who you met in your preparation, served as my audience. See my notes for reflection on the process–and how it might have been different if I were actually interpreting in the classroom or if I had it to do over.


Lise Lunge-Larsen introduces herself and the topic of folklore. (4:16)

Interpreter Notes

The interpretation was produced from the same video file on this CD. One thing that I found challenging in the introduction was trying to introduce a person who wasn’t physically present. In general, during introductions, I try to allow the Deaf person to have plenty of opportunity, whether by pauses in the interpretation or by my location, to get a visual impression of the speaker. Not sure I accomplished that.

One thing I wish I would have done differently was the interpretation of which words English borrowed from the Vikings. In hindsight, I wish I would have omitted a few of the examples, so I could have made the examples that were used clearer. I did attempt to give some kind of construct showing that folklore is a broad topic with many subsets in it. I chose to use a spatial representation similar to a flow chart. You all can decide how effective you think that was.

Cumulative Genre

Lise explains about this genre designed for young children and tells the story of “The Fat Cat.” (7:06)

Interpreter Notes

Lise uses a clear structure in her talk. She begins with explaining about a genre, and then goes into the story. After the story, she has a varying amount of commentary before moving on into the next genre. In my own interpretations, I wish that I would have had more distinct break between her more expository information and her storytelling. In hind sight, I wish I would have given the break a longer pause.

A note on interpreting the Norwegian: Lise used a fair amount of Norwegian in the story, both with the ending (Snipp, snapp, snute…) and in reference to two characters in the story: Skalinkulot and Skahantentot. For those two characters, I chose to just represent them with a physical description. Given time constraints, and the emphasis on reptition, I decided that placing more emphasis on those names would be a distraction to the main point of the story.

Explanatory Genre

Lise explains about this genre and tells the story of “How the Bear Got His Tail.”(3:46)

Interpreter Notes

On interpreting for a expressive speaker: Lise uses an incredible amount of expression, both vocal and facial, in her storytelling. In my interpretations of the video file, I think I gave more of an animated interpretation than I actually would have done in the situation. Given that her performance was part “theater,” I may have made more choices to reference her actions rather than reproduce them as a part of my interpretation. For instance, when she is squatting over the hole in the ice, I might draw the Deaf student’s attention to that, and then go on with my interpretation. I find that sometimes too much expressiveness in an interpretation can sometimes be seen as “competing” with the speaker. While it is important to have engaging features in an interpretation, we must walk the fine line of not having the event become all about the interpreter, rather than about the speaker.

Talking Animals

Lise explains about this genre and tells the story of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” (5:28

Interpreter Notes

In reviewing the interpretation, I wish that I had spent more time in the beginning setting up the physical environment of the story. First setting up the mountains, stream, and bridge, and then introducing the troll. I did that somewhat, but I think it could have been more effective.

I did, however, make use of much of the visual imagery of Patrick Graybill in his telling of this story in the videotape I mentioned in my preparation journal. Again, I would suggest that as an excellent resource.

Numbskull Genre

Lise explains about this genre, also known as Noodlehead stories, and tells the story of “The Three Sillies.” (6:23)

Interpreter Notes

This is a rather challenging story as there is the whole absurdity element, which sometimes can be difficult to translate. As well, there is a challenging description of trying to boost the cow onto the sod roof, and then having the man jerked up into the chimney. What was affirming in my work was Daniel, in the audience, found the whole scene of the man jumping into his pants to be very humorous. Getting feedback like that is always an important sign for me to know that my work is actually accomplishing its goal of creating a dynamic equivalent.

Another challenge was her application of the the genre in looking at sitcoms on television. Given that it was driven by audience interaction and it required a lot of fingerspelling of specific names, I don’t think that interaction was as engaging as it would have been live. I’m not sure I would have done anything differently, but just interesting to note the challenge of that section–and others like it in the other genres.

Fairy Tale

Lise explains about this genre and tells the story of “The Ashlad.” (11:06)

Interpreter Notes

In the “Ashlad” story, effectively characterizing the three sons and the troll seemed to me to be a critical part of the interpretation. Given how effectively Lise used her voice to show the difference between the troll and the Ashlad, I tried to effectively show that with my face and body positioning. Again, you be the judge of how effective it was. It seemed to be well received by Daniel.

One interesting challenge was interpreting how Ashlad tricked the Troll related to getting water from the well. How to show on the one hand that the bucket was huge and heavy, but then have the Ashlad describe it as a “thimble.” English’s use of metaphor shows the irony of it very efficiently. I found it to be more challenging to describe the trick in visual language.

Posted in: Goats, Trolls & Numbskulls