Ad-hoc interpreting in international educational settings
The problem of renditions
This paper examines interactions during educational activities in international camps for children, with English used as a lingua franca. Data were collected mostly at different camps in Italy (2006–7), but also in Brazil and the USA (both in 2013). The study focuses on 11 extracts from transcribed video and audio recordings of occasions when Italian children experience difficulty understanding and speaking English. On such occasions, Italian educators acting as ad-hoc interpreters often provide renditions not fully consistent with what has been said in English: reduced, summarised or expanded renditions are frequent, with some turns not rendered and others added. In this way, what is purported to be interpreting is often more concerned with achieving preassigned educational tasks. Talk in English is thus reduced to normative explanations, and ad-hoc interpreting takes the form of gatekeeping, the effect of which is to limit children’s active participation in social interactions. This educationally oriented gatekeeping can be avoided by involving children in sequences of conversational exchanges, using Italian: they are thus enabled to express their perspectives, the gist of which can be formulated in English, ensuring a stronger dialogic component in communication and closer attention to the children’s contributions.