Volume 20, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1384-6647
  • E-ISSN: 1569-982X
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Video relay interpreting (VRI) enables communication between a signed language user, remotely connected to an interpreter by videophone, and an interlocutor in spoken contact with the interpreter by telephone. Both users of the service are physically separated from each other and from the interpreter, who is in a studio. Essential technical components of the system include such items as videophones, telephones, computers, software, and a headset. This article explores how the interpreter orients towards the headset, turning it into an interactional resource. Examples of how this is done are identified in extracts from a corpus of VRI conversations between users of Swedish Sign Language (SSL) and spoken Swedish. Ethical approval and all participants’ consent were obtained. Three practices were identified: pointing towards the headset, orienting towards it in other ways (positioning, gesturing, direction of gaze), and holding it. All these practices have concrete pragmatic implications for the various steps in communication, such as establishing reference, repairs, and turn allocation. Enhancing VRI interpreters’ awareness of how equipment like a headset helps to organize the interaction is important, with a view to ensuring that the available technology is used to best effect for purposes of communication.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Ahlgren, I.
    (1990) Deictic pronouns in Swedish and Swedish sign language. In S. D. Fischer & P. Siple (Eds.), Theoretical issues in sign language research. Chicago/ London: University of Chicago Press, 167–174.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Ahlgren, I. & Bergman, B.
    (2006) Det svenska teckenspråket. In SOU 2006:29, Teckenspråk och teckenspråkiga: kunskap och forskningsöversikt: delbetänkande, 11–70.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Baker-Shenk, C. & Cokely, D.
    (1991) American Sign Language: A teacher’s resource text on grammar and culture. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Bildtelefoni
    Bildtelefoni (2016) Välkommen till bildtelefoni.net. www.bildtelefoni.net/ (accessed25 April 2016).
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Drew, P. & Heritage, J.
    (1992) Talk at work: Interaction in institutional settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Goodwin, C.
    (1979) The interactive construction of a sentence in natural conversation. In G. Psathas (Ed.), Everyday language: Studies in ethnomethodology. New York: Irvington Publishers, 97–121.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. (2003) Pointing as situated practice. In S. Kita (Ed.), Pointing: Where language, culture and cognition meet. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 217–242.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Goodwin, C. & Heritage, J.
    (1990) Conversation analysis. Annual Review of Anthropology19, 283–307.10.1146/annurev.an.19.100190.001435
    https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.an.19.100190.001435 [Google Scholar]
  9. Haualand, H. M.
    (2012) Interpreting ideals and relaying rights. PhD dissertation, University of Oslo.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Heritage, J.
    (1997) Conversation analysis and institutional talk: Analyzing data. In D. Silverman (Ed.), Qualitative research: Theory, method and practice. London: Sage, 161–182.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Heritage, J. & Clayman, S.
    (2010) Talk in action: Interactions, identities, and institutions. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.10.1002/9781444318135
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444318135 [Google Scholar]
  12. Holt, E.
    (1996) Reporting on talk: The use of direct reported speech in conversation. Research on Language and Social Interaction29 (3), 219–245.10.1207/s15327973rlsi2903_2
    https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327973rlsi2903_2 [Google Scholar]
  13. Keating, E. , Edwards, T. & Mirus, G.
    (2008) Cybersign and new proximities: Impacts of new communication technologies on space and language. Journal of Pragmatics40 (6), 1067–1081.10.1016/j.pragma.2008.02.009
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2008.02.009 [Google Scholar]
  14. Keating, E. & Mirus, G.
    (2003) American Sign Language in virtual space: Interactions between Deaf users of computer-mediated video communication and the impact of technology on language practices. Language in Society32 (5), 693–714.10.1017/S0047404503325047
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404503325047 [Google Scholar]
  15. Kendon, A.
    (1967) Some functions of gaze-directions in social interaction. Acta Psychologica26, 22–63.10.1016/0001‑6918(67)90005‑4
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0001-6918(67)90005-4 [Google Scholar]
  16. (1970) Movement coordination in social interaction: Some examples described. Acta Psychologica32, 100–125.10.1016/0001‑6918(70)90094‑6
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0001-6918(70)90094-6 [Google Scholar]
  17. Liddell, S. K.
    (2003) Grammar, gesture, and meaning in American Sign Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511615054
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511615054 [Google Scholar]
  18. Lillo-Martin, D. & Klima, E. S.
    (1990) Pointing out differences: ASL pronouns in syntactic theory. In S. D. Fischer & P. Siple (Eds.), Theoretical issues in sign language research. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 191–210.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Linell, P.
    (1998) Approaching dialogue: Talk, interaction and context in dialogical perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/impact.3
    https://doi.org/10.1075/impact.3 [Google Scholar]
  20. (2010) Communicative activity types as organisations in discourses and discourses in organisations. In S. -K. Tanskanen , M. -L. Helasvuo , M. Johansson & M. Raitaniemi (Eds.), Discourses in interaction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 33–60.10.1075/pbns.203.05lin
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.203.05lin [Google Scholar]
  21. (2011) Samtalskulturer kommunikativa verksamhetstyper i samhället. (Cultures of talking: Communicative activity types in society). Linköping: Linköping University, Department of Culture and Communication.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Marks, A.
    (2015) Investigating footing shifts in video relay service interpreted interaction. In B. Nicodemus & K. Cagle (Eds.), Signed language interpretation and translation research: Selected papers from the first international symposium. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press, 71–96.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Mason, I.
    (2012) Gaze, positioning and identity in interpreted-mediated dialogues. In C. Baraldi & L. Gavioli (Eds.), Coordinating participation in dialogue interpreting. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 177–200.10.1075/btl.102.08mas
    https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.102.08mas [Google Scholar]
  24. Metzger, M.
    (1999) Sign language interpreting: Deconstructing the myth of neutrality. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Nilsson, A. -L.
    (2007) The non-dominant hand in a Swedish sign language discourse. In M. Vermeerbergen , L. Leeson & O. Crasborn (Eds.), Simultaneity in signed languages: Form and function. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 163–185.10.1075/cilt.281.08nil
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.281.08nil [Google Scholar]
  26. Reilly, J.
    (2000) Bringing affective expression into the service of language: Acquiring perspective marking in narratives. In K. Emmorey & H. Lane (Eds.), The signs of language revisited. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 355–370.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Roy, C. B.
    (2002) The problem with definitions, descriptions, and the role metaphors of interpreters. In F. Pöchhacker & M. Shlesinger (Eds.), The interpreting studies reader. London/New York: Routledge, 344–353.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Schegloff, E. A.
    (1997) Practices and actions: Boundary cases of other‐initiated repair. Discourse Processes23 (3), 499–545.10.1080/01638539709545001
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01638539709545001 [Google Scholar]
  29. Sidnell, J. & Stivers, T.
    (2013) The handbook of conversation analysis. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Svensk författningssamling
    Svensk författningssamling (2003) Lag (2003:460) om etikprövning av forskning som avser människor. www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/svensk-forfattningssamling/lag-2003460-om-etikprovning-av-forskning-som_sfs-2003-460 (accessed22 December 2016).
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Swedish Sign Language Lexicon
    Swedish Sign Language Lexicon (2016) Svenskt Teckenspråkslexikon. teckensprakslexikon.su.se/sok?q=fr%C3%A5ga (accessed25 April 2016).
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Wadensjö, C.
    (1993) The double role of a dialogue interpreter. Perspectives: Studies in Translatology1 (1), 105–121.10.1080/0907676X.1993.9961204
    https://doi.org/10.1080/0907676X.1993.9961204 [Google Scholar]
  33. (1998) Interpreting as interaction. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. (1999) Telephone interpreting and the synchronization of talk. The Translator5 (2), 247–264.10.1080/13556509.1999.10799043
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13556509.1999.10799043 [Google Scholar]
  35. (2008) In and off the show: Co-constructing ‘invisibility’ in an interpreter-mediated talk show interview. Meta53 (1), 184–203.10.7202/017982ar
    https://doi.org/10.7202/017982ar [Google Scholar]
  36. Warnicke, C. & Plejert, C.
    (2012) Turn-organisation in mediated phone interaction using Video Relay Service (VRS). Journal of Pragmatics44 (10), 1313–1334.10.1016/j.pragma.2012.06.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2012.06.004 [Google Scholar]
  37. (2016) The positioning and bimodal mediation of the interpreter in a Video Relay Interpreting (VRI) service setting. Interpreting18 (2), 198–230.10.1075/intp.18.2.03war
    https://doi.org/10.1075/intp.18.2.03war [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): headset; interpreting; signed language; telephone; video relay interpreting
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error