Elisabet Trengereid Olsen

Elisabet Trengereid Olsen

Elisabet Trengereid Olsen completed her university degree in Sign Language Interpretation in 2001, and has since worked as an interpreter for the deaf, deafened and deafblind. In addition to being employed at the Interpreter Service in Bergen, and Aal Folk High School, she has been a freelance interpreter for several years. Since 2011 she has been employed as an assistant professor at the Department for Sign Language and Interpreting at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, teaching students Norwegian Sign Language and Interpreting. She holds a Master’s Degree in Community Work, and her thesis «Mediated Interaction» deals with interpreting for deaf immigrants.


Reaching common ground – when interpreting for deaf immigrants

People migrate for various reasons. The immigrants leave their homes searching for a better life in peace and safety. Some of these immigrants are deaf. Arriving in Norway they meet a new country, a new language and a society very different from what they are used to. The deaf immigrants have varying skills in speaking, writing – and/or formal sign languages. Some are illiterate. They communicate with members of the hearing majority through Norwegian interpreters. The interpreters are educated in interpreting between Norwegian and Norwegian Sign Language. They know little of the deaf immigrant’s languages or way of communicating, and vice versa. When interpreting in in these communication situations, unusual challenges occur. The interpreters use different strategies to understand – and to be understood by the deaf immigrants.

The presentation at the Nordic seminar for Sign Language Interpreters is based on information collected when writing the Master Thesis «Mediated Interaction». The thesis’s data has been produced in interviews with Norwegian interpreters in focus groups, and enlightens the interpreters point of view on interpreting between deaf and hearing persons. The thesis has a special focus on interpreting for deaf immigrants. This issue will be a focal point at the presentation, and interpreters’ role performance and role-space when interpreting for deaf immigrants with minimal language skills will be addressed.


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