Once a broker, always a broker: Non-professional interpreting as identity accomplishment in multigenerational Italian-English bilingual family interaction

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24 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper explores interpreting in three-generational Italian-English bilingual families as a complex language brokering activity. Recent studies approach non-professional interpreting as language brokering in which bilinguals (often children) interpret for non-bilinguals (adults) in institutional settings (Hall 2004; Valdés 2003). These studies focus on brokering between minority group 'insiders' and majority group 'outsiders'. My research extends these approaches, focusing on brokering in Italian-English bilingual family meal-time conversations. Second-generation family members have served as interpreters for their parents in institutional contexts since migrating as children over fifty years ago. They extend this practice to the family context, brokering between first- and third-generation family members in two ways. Triggered interpreting occurs when speakers verbally request clarification or when second-generation family members perceive conversational sequence problems. Non-triggered interpreting is neither requested nor sequentially triggered. Second-generation family members report playing an intermediary role unifying flanking generations. They act to bridge perceived linguistic and cultural gaps between their Italian-dominant immigrant parents and their English-dominant Canadian/US-born children. Interpretation in multi-generational conversations is one way through which these bridging roles and identities are accomplished locally in mundane interaction. The analysis includes an examination of spontaneous conversational data and participants' metacommentary and retrospective accounts of language brokering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-97
Number of pages21
JournalMultilingua
Volume27
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language

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