American Sign Language (ASL)/English interpreters working between ASL and spoken English make linguistic and cultural choices that impact the success of an interpreted event. One task is the selection of comparable vocabulary to best represent their clients' thoughts. This exploratory qualitative study was conducted to identify how ASL/English interpreters transfer meaning when African American English (AAE) is incorporated into signed language. Each interpreter simultaneously interpreted an ASL narrative into spoken English. Participants were asked to complete a demographic survey to ascertain whether social factors of age, race, ethnicity, experience, mode of language acquisition, and/or age of language acquisition had any bearing on the interpretation. Following the collection of the interpreting sample and demographic data, two interviews were conducted utilizing a semi-structured format to provide insight into the strategic decisions made by the participants. The findings identify three strategic decisions interpreters used in lieu of incorporating AAE: omission, external processing, and discourse chunking. The overarching purpose was to collect empirical data that will lend itself to dialogues on how to best equip signed language professionals to meet the needs of African American/Black Deaf consumers.

Exit Requirement


Date of Award

Spring 6-3-2015

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies

Committee Chair

Pamela Cancel

Committee Member

Elisa Maroney

Committee Member

Carolyn McCaskill


African American/Black, ASL/English Interpreter, Deaf, Signed Language, African American English, Culture



Type (DCMI Terms)


Subject Categories

African American Studies | Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Critical and Cultural Studies | Discourse and Text Linguistics | Ethnic Studies | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies

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