This is the blog/vlog of Isabelle Heyerick. It contains information on interpreting strategies, research and events.
Author: Isabelle Heyerick
My area of expertise is signed language interpreting and my research is situated on the intersection of (applied) linguistics, intercultural studies and language ideologies. I hold a PhD in Linguistics, a MA in Linguistics and a MA in Interpreting. My PhD is a first exploration of which linguistic interpreting strategies Flemish Sign Language interpreters use and why. My postdoctoral research investigated how discourses and ideologies about deaf people and signed languages prevalent in both the majority society and in the Deaf communities influence the linguistic decisions signed language interpreters make in their actual practice. Currently I am an Assistant Professor in Applied Sign Linguistics at the Centre for Deaf Studies at Trinity College Dublin (Ireland).
I am the secretary of the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters and the vice-president of Tenuto, an organisation offering continuous professional development for sign language interpreters.
11 taalkundige tolkstrategieën in onderzoek geïdentificeerd, gedefinieerd en beschreven.
In deze korte blog post wil ik ingaan op de kern van mijn onderzoeksresultaten: de 11 tolkstrategieën die ik uitgebreid bespreek in mijn doctoraat.
Wat is een taalkundige tolkstrategie?
Als we aan tolken denken, denken we misschien niet onmiddellijk aan strategieën. We weten dat een tolk bepaalde kennis en vaardigheden moet hebben om hun job te kunnen doen. Maar ook strategieën?
Als we een strategie zien als iemand die bewust een actie doet met een bepaald doel voor ogen (denk aan een marketingstrategie, of een overlevingsstrategie), dan kunnen we misschien ook de link leggen met tolken. Als tolk heb je één (of meerdere) doel(en) en er zijn verschillende manieren om dat te bereiken. Je moet dus op een bepaald niveau bewuste acties ondernemen in functie van je doel(en). Met andere woorden: je gaat bepaalde strategieën toepassen of vermijden.
Die bewuste acties kan je op verschillende vlakken toepassen voor, tijdens of na een tolkopdracht. Mijn onderzoek gaat over keuzes die een tolk maakt tijdens het tolken op het vlak van taal: woord en/of gebaren-keuze, grammaticale keuzes, etc. Vandaar de term “taalkundige tolkstrategieën”.
In de vertaal- en tolkwetenschap zijn al heel wat specifieke taalkundige tolkstrategieën beschreven. Zaken zoals parafrase, herhaling, weglating, substituties, etc. werden al uitvoerig bestudeerd en besproken. Er zijn meer studies die dit bekeken voor tolken gesproken talen dan voor tolken die werken met gesproken en gebarentalen. Alhoewel de “miscues” van Cokely en de “linguistic coping strategies” van Napier waarschijnlijk wel gekend zijn. Die laatste bestudeerde vooral weglatingen als een tolkstrategie voor tolken gesproken (Engels) – gebarentaal (Auslan).
Voor mijn onderzoek besliste ik om enkel taalkundige tolkstrategieën, zoals eerder gedefinieerd, te bekijken. Ik vertrok van wat we al weten uit de vertaal- en tolkwetenschap, maakte een taxonomie (lijst van verschillende terminologie voor mogelijke strategieën), en ging na welke strategieën de 8 tolken Nederlands – VGT die deelnamen aan mijn onderzoek gebruikten of afwezen.
Het eerste resultaat was overweldigend: maar liefst 19 individuele strategieën en 4 combinaties van meerdere strategieën werden door de 8 tolken gebruikt:
Overzicht toegepaste strategieën – totaal (Heyerick, 2021; pp. 107-109)
Om dit te verfijnen en om tot een relevante bespreking te komen, besliste ik om enkel die strategieën die door minstens 4 tolken werden gebruikt verder te onderzoeken. Op deze manier werden strategieën die enkel door 1 tolk of maar 1 keer werden gebruikt uitgefilterd.
Dit leidde tot 11 taalkundige tolkstrategieën. Voor deze heb ik een taxonomie opgesteld met de term voor de strategie, een definitie, en voorbeelden.
Ik ga ervanuit dat dit overzicht voor veel tolken, tolkgebruikers, studenten en tolkdocenten interessant kan zijn – misschien wel het meest bruikbare resultaat van mijn doctoraat? Vandaar dat ik het hier graag ter beschikking stel voor wie het nuttig kan zijn.
Als je deze taxonomie, en/of de definities, en/of de voorbeelden gebruikt in publicaties of lesmateriaal gelieve de volgende referentie (hier in APA7 stijl) te gebruiken: Heyerick, I. (2023) “Taalkundige tolkstrategieën taxonomie: definities en voorbeelden”. Online beschikbaar op
Vragen? Opmerkingen? Suggesties? Laat maar weten (email).
KU Leuven Stories – the power of wonder. By Ine Van Houdenhove
A while ago I was interviewed for the KU Leuven (the university where I obtained my PhD) Stories series. During a online interview (damn pandemic) we talked about my doctoral and postdoctoral (University of Warwick, UK) research. The result is a feature, or Story, that offers a very clear overview of mss studies and the main findings. Enjoy the read and as always; do not hesitate to share your thoughts on the topic(s)
KU Leuven Stories – de kracht van verwondering. Door Ine Van Houdenhove.
Onlangs werd ik geïnterviewd voor de KU Leuven (waar ik mijn doctoraatsonderzoek deed) Stories series. Tijdens een online interview (rot pandemie!) hadden we het over het onderzoek dat ik deed tijdens mijn doctoraat en postdoctoraat (University of Warwick, UK). Het resultaat is een Story dat op een heel heldere manier een overzicht biedt van deze onderzoeken en de belangrijkste bevindingen. Geniet ervan, en – zoals steeds – laat me gerust weten wat en hoe jij over deze thema’s denkt.
The latest issue of The Linguist (the professional journal of the Chartered Institute of Linguists) features a piece on my PhD and postdoctoral research:
In the article I talk about (signed language) interpreting as a goal-oriented process, presenting the most important findings of my PhD research (KU Leuven, Belgium) and insights from my follow-up postdoctoral study (University of Warwick, UK).
On July 10th I delivered the opening keynote at the online conference organised by the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters. The theme of the conference was What have we learnt from 2020-2021.
Het artikel gaat in op de strategieën die tolken Nederlands – Vlaamse Gebarentaal (en bij uitbreiding alle tolken) gebruiken en de keuzes die ze maken. Het benadrukt dat die keuzes deel uitmaken van het tolken en dat tolken niet zomaar iets doen maar hun keuzes kunnen motiveren en verklaren.
Dr Gaz J Johnson Hello and welcome to another episode of the exchanges discourse podcast. I am dr. Gareth J. Johnson, the managing editor in chief of Exchanges, the interdisciplinary research journal, published by the Institute for Advanced Study based at the University of Warwick in the UK. Thanks for joining me today. In a similar vein to last times episode, I’m joined once more by a guest and today it’s one of our more senior WIRL-COFUND research fellows. We’ll be talking about her research and publishing experiences.
Well, this morning, I’m joined by Isabelle Heyerick, who is currently a postdoctoral WIRL-COFUND fellow in Applied Linguistics here at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Warwick. Welcome, Isabelle. Thanks for joining us.
Dr Isabelle Heyerick Good morning. Happy to be here.
Dr Gaz J Johnson Fantastic. Now, obviously, you know, my first question is going to be about your own research. So, tell me a little bit more about what you’re working on at the moment.
Dr Isabelle Heyerick Yes, sure. I’m always happy to talk about my research. So, my current research, the focus actually developed from the one I did previously, my PhD. But it’s also influenced by some new current trends in the field. My field of study, I’ll start with that, is signed language interpreting. I approach it from what I would call an interdisciplinary perspective.
Dr Gaz J Johnson Always good.
Dr Isabelle Heyerick Yeah, also, one of the reasons I’m an IAS fellow. The interdisciplinarity is actually made up from interpreting studies, obviously, that would be the main angle, but it’s influenced heavily by Deaf Studies, and applied and sociolinguistics. So, the research focus is really on linguistic interpreting strategies, hence the Applied Linguistics angle as well. But I look at how prevalent ideologies about signed languages, spoken languages, and interpreting actually influenc the linguistic choices interpreters make in their actual work. So that’s my main focus, but more recently, and this is because of the pandemic. I mean. I think each researcher is now kind of raring towards like, okay, a lot of stuff is happening here, how can I research this, how does it tie in with the knowledge I already have? So more recently, I’ve actually started to explore the impact of the visibility of signed language interpreters. Because since the pandemic, all over the world, we have a lot of sign language interpreters, in the media, interpreting press conferences, briefings, etc. So, I’m looking at how this increased visibility has actually influenced people in wanting to learn signed languages or wanting to become signed language interpreters and tying this to ideologies they might have about deaf people, about sign languages, etc.
Dr Gaz J Johnson That sounds really timely work as well. I mean, it’s, obviously, I mean, I’ve seen in the media or the various discussions over wearing face masks, and of course, the difficulty for deaf members of the public from not be able to lip read. So saying that of course, sign language at least isn’t restricted by masks in quite the same way.
Dr Isabelle Heyerick Yes, exactly.
Dr Gaz J Johnson Brilliant. Well, okay. Now, obviously, you’re on the Exchanges Discourses podcast, and one of the things we are very much interested in is scholarly publishing. So I know, as an academic author yourself, you’ve probably got a few irons in the fire at the moment. What, what are you working on right now?
Dr Isabelle Heyerick I have actually not started writing yet. But over the Summer I submitted an abstract to a journal, which will publish a special edition on, believe it or not, sign language interpreting and ideologies.
Dr Gaz J Johnson Fantastic.
Dr Isabelle Heyerick I submitted an abstract and it was accepted for publication. Which means that we have to write the article, right? So at this point, I’m just putting together the skeleton of what I want to address, I am looking at my data. Of course, I am looking at the abstract, where I said what I would write about. So just preparing that really. So it’s due March, which means I will actually really start writing somewhere by the end of next month.
Dr Gaz J Johnson Over the Christmas break, perfect.
Dr Isabelle Heyerick Yeah. Sounds like something you want to do with a nice glass of wine or champagne, right?
Dr Gaz J Johnson I find it quite interesting when you submit abstracts, and then you come to write and do the conference paper or the academic paper, and I look at why have I overpromised what I’m going to put in this article. One of these two options would have been a fine article, but it’s been already accepted. So now I’m going to talk about these two themes in one article. Fantastic.
Dr Isabelle Heyerick Well, I had my abstract reviewed by a couple of my peers and they were like “Amazing. But I really am reading six articles here”. I kept all drafts of the abstract and I have five more articles in the pipeline.
Dr Gaz J Johnson I guess that’s a good thing. I was going to say. Wow, six articles in one day is good. That is far better.
Dr Isabelle Heyerick I think it’s one of my things. My PhD turned out to be 600 pages. It was like three PhDs in one study, you know.
Dr Gaz J Johnson It’s always good to hear people who write a long thesis, because my thesis was a long one as well. But there was a lot to say, and I’m unfortunately a bit of a garrulous individual when I write as well. Probably part of it. Obviously, you’ve published a few times already, Isabelle, what’s been your impression of the scholarly publishing world for yourself as an academic?
Dr Isabelle Heyerick Yeah. So I think my impression has changed from an early career or early academic author to where I am now. I don’t know. My father used to say that some things you should just do when you’re young and foolish, and you don’t really know what you’re doing. I think for a few of my first publications, this was true. And it was good that I did it when I was young and foolish, because knowing what I know now I would probably not go there. But it also means that sometimes you do something, you invest time and energy, not really knowing what you’re doing. And now in the later stage of my career, I actually do know what is expected of me. And then I look back, like, oh, that was a bit of wasted time and energy, a little learning curve.
Dr Gaz J Johnson Absolutely. And I was going to say, that is the academic learning journey for us all, you know. As with the things I did with my own research, I look back and I went, well, I could have saved myself six months or a year here with this work. If I only realized what I know now, three years later.
Dr Isabelle Heyerick Exactly. And I think that’s one of the things that is quite important in academic writing and publishing, to have people around you who kind of know and who are willing to share that knowledge with you. Who are willing to support you, to guide you, and to keep you on track. And it’s not only keeping you on track, like “this is your focus, don’t meander into all the other stuff that’s interesting as well.” It’s also just about very practical stuff; what are the requirements? What are the standards? How do you have to submit something? What will make a good impression? But also, how do you communicate with people you don’t know? How do you communicate with reviewers? What is the right tone? And there’s a lot to learn there, and you don’t learn it during your PhD.
Dr Gaz J Johnson And I was gonna say, in dealing as I do with an awful lot of reviewers, they are all individuals, and they interact, and they react in very different ways to sort of comments from authors and vice versa. So, it is something I often think is, it’s you need to just have that experience. But also people like ourselves, saying don’t stress, that we’ve all been through this, it’s not the end of the world when a reviewer comes back, and they really don’t like your paper.
Dr Isabelle Heyerick Exactly. And I think having had later on the experience of also being an editor to an edited volume with another person. So we’re two editors, seeing how the conversation goes between editors and reviewers and then knowing what goes through to the actual author also kind of gave me another perspective. Being on the other side and receiving reviews for other authors, you know. Because you know, well, there’s somebody there, the editor who most of the time will protect both of you. Because I as an editor have had some reviews where I thought these are not very kind reviews, you could make your point in a kinder way. You don’t have to be that attacking or to diminish the person to the ground, right? You can still make your valid point in a more collegial way really.
Dr Gaz J Johnson We always say with exchanges our motto is critique not criticism. That’s what we hope our viewers embrace that it’s going to be analytical, yes, it actually may well say things are not great but there’s a way to phrase it that is still empowering, that is still useful without just going out right down the grounds that well this is a dreadful article I wouldn’t bother publishing this. I have seen reviews like that and particularly for first time authors so downheartening. It really is. So since we’re talking a bit here about the sort of horror stories as well. Have you had any terrible, really terrible experiences? Naming them, names perhaps? In your own publishing career?
Dr Isabelle Heyerick Oh, I’m not going to name any names but there was a very unfortunate event. Very early on, actually. I think it’s probably due to the fact that I was a young author, not a lot of experience and actually co-authoring with somebody who was equally not very experienced in the whole of academic publishing and its code of ethics. It was a combination of ourselves being young, unexperienced and some miscommunication, I think, with the editor of a certain volume. So what happened? We, me and my co-author, we presented a paper at a conference. And that paper was like heavily based on a chapter that had been accepted for a book. So, we’d already written the chapter, it was under embargo, and it would be published in the book soon. But that was what our presentation was based on, like the findings we report on in that chapter. After the conference, we were invited to submit our conference proceedings paper. And we declined, because we said, well, this will be published as a chapter in the book, like inthe very, very near future. The editor of the conference proceedings came back to us and was very adamant that we had to submit the paper. Yeah. Accepting to give this presentation we accepted to publish in the conference proceedings. So we said, okay, we will, we will write something, we will submit something, but a lot of it will be similar to that chapter. Still, we kind of tried to focus on the things we discussed in our presentation, because we didn’t cover the whole research. So it was similar, but different. Anyways, later on, the book was published first, and then a couple of months later, the conference proceedings. And we received an email from the editor of the conference proceedings, calling us intellectually dishonest.
Dr Gaz J Johnson Oh, goodness, sight. Oh, terrible.
Dr Isabelle Heyerick She told us that it is absolutely not done in academia, that you publish the same thing twice in different publications. And we just didn’t know what to do. We were young. We thought we communicated it clearly that this is going to be the case. And we felt that well, we were pressured to do it anyways. So, I think that’s my. Also because you’re young and unexperienced. This was not my first publication. But one of the first. I thought I’ve ruined my academic career. Now someone’s going to tell everyone that I’m dishonest and I’m a fraud. So that was a, that was my horror story.
Dr Gaz J Johnson Wow. That’s a good one. Thank you.
Dr Isabelle Heyerick I’m happy my trauma is serving.
Dr Gaz J Johnson But it’s good to see it hasn’t destroyed your career, has it? You see, you know, you’ve taken it on board, you’ve learned from it. And you know, it’s now something we can talk about, perhaps laugh about at a certain degree, which is good.
Dr Isabelle Heyerick Yeah, absolutely. It was, again, a learning curve. And you become more mindful. Now I read what I’m agreeing to.
Dr Gaz J Johnson Back in the day, when I was a librarian in charge of the open access repositories. One of the things I used to say to the academics I worked with so many times: have you actually read what you’ve signed? My job often was to read and analyse lots of license agreements. So, they’re tedious. But my lord, they do sometimes sign you up to things you don’t quite expect.
Dr Isabelle Heyerick Yeah, but I think, and I think a lot of early career researchers or academics can relate to this. Sometimes you’re just so happy that they’ve accepted you. They want me to give this presentation. They want me to write this chapter. You just trust that you go like: Yes, I’ll do it. And you don’t really read what will be expected.
Dr Gaz J Johnson Yeah. I will confess, I still get excited every time I get accepted for anything. So, it doesn’t, it doesn’t change. But yeah, I’m like you, I now do scrutinize what exactly have I signed up to do?
Dr Isabelle Heyerick Exactly. Yeah.
Dr Gaz J Johnson Okay. And then Isabelle, my last question, we’ve kind of touched on this in a few areas already. Which is I would like to ask folks, the one piece of advice they’d give, particularly first-time authors, and you’ve kind of touched already on ideas of getting someone else to kind of look at your paper. We talked about do read what are you getting yourself into. But do you think there was one thing you’d say, like almost to your younger self?
Dr Isabelle Heyerick Yeah, I think it ties into what I think is the most important thing I’ve learned in my academic career. Which is that a good author or a published author, because probably they’re not always the same thing, like a published author is not always good author, you have to surround yourself with people who actually want you to be successful. Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed. Because I think you never write alone. Even if you’re the sole author of a piece or a chapter, the writing process is not a process you can do by yourself. I mean, obviously there are the people who will help you with the practical stuff, you can have the people you can bounce ideas off, you can ask for reviews outside of the official review process. And then you have your audience. Like you need to know in the back of your mind, I’m writing this for someone, because there’s going to be days, not at the beginning. Because then you’re very motivated. But there’s going to be days like near the end of the first draft, you’re like, I can’t look at this. And then I think it’s important to understand that actually, there are actual people out there waiting for you to have this published because it will be helpful. So, for first-time authors looking to publish. My advice would be, don’t be blinded with where you want to publish. Like, which big title? Which publishing company? Look for people you want to publish with. Who are the people on the editorial board? Who are the people that will guide the whole process? Are these people I want to work with, I think want me to be a successful author, as you will learn so much from them. And those first successes, which might be in less major journals, or might not be with the publishing company in your field. Like in my field, the publishing company would be John Benjamin’s. Right. So obviously, that was a dream of me, to someday I want to have a chapter in one of their books. But I started off publishing in more accessible journals. With people I knew. I knew they wanted me to be published. And that has led me to a chapter this year in one of John Benjamins Publishing volumes.
Dr Gaz J Johnson Wonderful.
Dr Isabelle Heyerick So, I think, yeah, it creates the confidence. These victories you will need to then later on, tackle the big ones. So yes, surround yourself with people who will help you get there.
Dr Gaz J Johnson Well, that’s, that’s fantastic advice. Thank you, Isabelle. Really, really good. In which case, we’ve come to the end of our chat for today, I’m going to thank you because that has been absolutely fascinating for me as well. I hope it will be for our audience. So, thank you very much for coming on the Exchanges Discourse podcast.
Dr Isabelle Heyerick It was my pleasure and really always, always happy we can talk about the work we do. And if it can support someone else’s, even better.
Dr Gaz J Johnson My thanks to Isabelle for a great and highly enjoyable conversation. I do hope that you’ve enjoyed listening to it as well. This will be the last episode of the Exchanges Discourse podcast for 2020. But don’t fret. We will be back early in 2021 with our first double guest episode, as we look towards the publication of our representations of nerds’ special issue later that year. I hope you’ll be able to join us refreshed and revitalized for the new year and ready for some publications related chat. For now, I’m dr. Gary Johnson, your host for this Exchanges Discourse podcast. Remember, you can always find out more about our journal and Exchanges on Oracle ac.uk or on Twitter at @ExchangesIAS. If you would like to get in touch with a question for the podcast, a potential theme for later episode or to discuss a potential submission, you can get in touch with me via email@example.com. Thank you for listening. And please don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe.
If we have ever been challenged and have needed to resort to strategies to cope with the everchanging day-to-day life, it has been in 2020, and it continues to be the case in 2021. Finding a healthy balance to navigate the “new normal” requires strategies and coping mechanisms. I wrote the following article on the well-being of sign language interpreters during the pandemic for the WASLI Newsletter, inspired by a workshop offered by Lianne Nap:
2020 has ended and what a strange and challenging year it has been. It has also shown us how resilient we can be and how we, no matter what, are and stay connected. Our profession had to respond and adapt to the new reality of interpreting during a pandemic where we find ourselves “locked down”. And whereas we have tackled the practical and technological challenges, turned our homes in interpreting studios and trained ourselves in becoming tech-savvy, what have we done to make sure that we are coping with these changes on a personal, psychological and emotional level?
In November, WASLI Secretary, Isabelle Heyerick as the founder and Vice-President of Tenuto vzw (an organisation offering continuous professional development for Flemish Sign Language interpreters) co-organised and attended a webinar on reflection through the concept of mirror play facilitated by Lianne Nap (www.inthemirror.eu). The webinar invited colleagues to reflect on how the physical and technological changes impact their overall energy and how they can tip the scale to the positive.
At the end of this webinar the impression remained that signed language interpreters have addressed the technological adjustments but are neglecting the mental strain interpreting from home is posing. It is necessary to know the technological and practical ins and outs of interpreting during a pandemic: the technology and equipment we need to be able to do our job. However, it is also necessary to know what we need to safeguard our mental well-being. Lianne pointed out: we are our own tool, there is no replacement if we break. This is especially true when professional and personal boundaries are blurred and our work enters our private homes, and vice versa. We are currently not only interpreters working from our own home, we are also all the other facets of our person in that home, managing our personal, private and professional lives (and the ones we interpret for and with) in one space. The impact of this changed reality should not be underestimated and should be addressed so that we can continue to do the job we love.
“We are our own tool, there is no replacement if we break!”
WASLI encourages interpreter associations and organisations to explore opportunities to devote attention to this topic and ways to address it. For instance, some of our regions have established closed Facebook groups where interpreters can discuss the challenges and support each other.
Below we gladly provide other examples of what organisations have offered or are offering to their members, which can serve as inspiration. However, if an organised approach is not (yet) possible, getting in touch with your colleague(s) to have a “we are in this together and we will get through this together” chat might be simply enough.
* While writing this blog the amazing Twitter account @VirtualNotViral organised a Tweet chat on the subject of well-being with guest Narelle Lemon with some great tips and resources, which they allowed me to share in this blog. You can also read the full archived Tweet chat.