Research & Scholarly Achievement
at Gallaudet University
Examining the acoustic prosodic features of ASL to English interpreting
In this investigation, we report on a first-of-its-kind experiment to measure the vocal prosody of ASL-to-spoken English interpreting. Using pre-selected videos of Deaf signers in emotionally flat and emotionally dynamic narratives, eight professional interpreters, four females and four males, participated in piloting the procedures. The participants were audio-recorded in three conditions: (a) baseline samples of their voices during interview questions; (b) oral readings of emotionally flat and emotionally rich conten; and (c) ASL-to-English interpretations of emotionally flat and emotionally dynamic videos of Deaf signers. The pilot data revealed expected variability in the mean, standard deviations, and ranges of fundamental frequency required for intonation, representing in most but not all interpretations, a prosodic difference in the emotionally flat and emotionally rich interpretations from ASL to English. We report the experimental procedures, laboratory measures, and comparative samples of the interpreters’ vocal prosodics in what may well become a state-of-the science approach to assuring ASL-to-English prosodic match.