A frican-American religious interpreting is one of the most complicated interpreting venues for skilled interpreters. To be effective, an interpreter in this arena first must know cul- tural norms and understand the African-American church aes- thetic. Second, the interpreter must be able to navigate and negotiate mediated meanings and context-specific language.
Third, the interpreter must be able to handle African-American gospel music. Many interpreters find such an experience daunting, and rightfully so. This article proposes a theoretical approach to the third aspect of interpreting in the black church: interpreting African-American gospel music.
African-American gospel music is composed of cultural aes- thetic elements that are essential to the African-American church experience. In order to create equivalent, effective translations of gospel music consistently, the interpreter must know and understand these elements. In particular, the ele- ment of performance is key in both the makeup of gospel music and the black church.
In the field of interpretation, there are no theoretical approaches or models that include performance and music as essential parts of an equivalent translation. Currently, most theories of interpretation are text-centered. Such a limitation is problematic for the religious interpreter in the African- American church.
Both the source language (gospel music) and the context (the ... more. less.
black church) are performance centered. Yet, without a theoretical approach or model that includes the interpretation of music and text (lyrics) simultaneously, an equivalent message cannot be achieved. Effective and equiva- lent translations of African-American gospel music require the interpretation of both music and text.<br><br> Performance theory pro- vides the necessary framework needed to render an equivalent translation of gospel music. Performance Theory A performance is a bounded event within a given frame- work (context), and that event is appreciated (or not) by an audience/auditor. Richard Bauman, in his seminal work Verbal Art as Performance , puts forth an outline for understanding per- formance theory as it relates to speaking events.<br><br> He discusses the need for a review of theories that regard verbal art merely as ctext-centered d (Bauman, 1977). He suggests that such a view places cconstraints on the development of a meaningful method for understanding verbal art as performance. d To remove these theoretical constraints, Bauman proposes the fol- lowing: &[I]n artistic performance&there is something going on in the communicative interchange which says to the auditor, 8interpret what I say in some special sense; do not take it to mean what the words alone, taken literally, would convey. 9 This may lead to the further suggestion that performance sets up&an interpretive frame within which the messages being communicated are to be understood&. (1977:11) Bauman contends that artistic performance creates a con- text for special communicative interchanges between an audi- ence and performer.<br><br> Those interchanges include guidelines for understanding the communication taking place. The performer cassumes accountability to an audience for the way in which communication is carried out& d (11). The audience evaluates that communication/performance for cthe way it is done, for the relative skill and effectiveness of the performer 9s display of Theoretical Approach Religious Interpreting as Performance by Myisha J.<br><br> Blackman, M.A., CI and CT, California and Antonio Goodwin, J.D., M.Div., M.A., Associate, California A Monthly Publication of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf Vol. 21, Issue 11, December 2004 VIEWS " 24-25 Call for NIC Test Raters 20-23 2005 Conference Information Bridging Cultures SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS 2005 RID CONFERENCE R D I Continued on page 26 VIEWS December 2004 26 pretation as text centered or word cen- tered. As such, they limit the develop- ment of a meaningful framework for understanding religious interpreting as performance.<br><br> Thus, music is not included as a part of the translation process of rendering an equivalent message. Applying the above defini- tion of performance to African- American gospel music interpreting, we find that black gospel music expressed in the African-American church is necessarily performance. The African American Church The African-American church is performance centered and therefore the ideal place to understand interpret- ing as performance, particularly as it relates to interpreting religious (gospel) music.<br><br> From dancing to singing, the emotive physical expres- sion of contentment, excitement, and joy connotes a cultural appreciation for performance. Although its focus is ministry, the black church values vocal gymnastics (e.g., melismas 4also known as 8runs 9 4 bends, moans, gut- tural sounds) and original oratory (e.g., plays on words, subtle meanings, and witty rhetorical feats). With this in mind, the interpreted message must be equivalent (to the extent possible).<br><br> Furthermore, the requirement of audi- ence participation (call and response) necessitates the interpreted message be effective. As an event, the black church is a created space that tells the auditor- congregant to interpret what is hap- pening in a special sense. This event is also bounded by a change in communi- cation mode.<br><br> Outside the church, the overarching cultural language is low- context, which is to say that a given message tends to be communicated explicitly. Speech and time concepts are understood linearly. Words are viewed as denotative versus connota- tive.<br><br> However, in the frame of the African-American church service, the prevailing mode of communication is high-context language. This means that the spirit of the message is largely implied. Appreciation for meanings and expressiveness are more highly valued.<br><br> The subtext is chief. Phrases like cGod will make a way outta no way! d or cI been running for Jesus a long time, and I ain 9t tired yet d are in every part of the black church event. The words themselves are not the focus; rather, it is what they point to.<br><br> The applicability of these phrases is to each his own. Gospel music, by default, is also high-context. The lyrics are generally the same phrases that are used in ser- mons and church rhetoric.<br><br> They require reading-between-the-lines inter- preting. The interpreter must first understand this special meaning so that the auditor (Deaf congregant) may receive the equivalent message and be able to fully participate. To render a translation that is effec- tive and equivalent, interpreting gospel songs requires analysis of both music and lyrics.<br><br> Consider an excerpt from the contemporary gospel song, cLet Everything That Hath Breath (Praise the Lord). d The lead vocalist, Dr. Judith McAllister, is the praise and worship leader at a large, predominate- ly African-American Pentecostal church in Los Angeles, California. In the begin- ning of the song, she alternately speaks and reads a passage from the Bible.<br><br> Eventually, she joins in singing with the choir. [DR. MCALLISTER (reading)] cPRAISE THE LORD OH MY SOUL.<br><br> WHILE I LIVE WILL I GIVE YOU GLORY AND HONOR. WHILE I HAVE MY BEING& d [Choir joins in singing while DR. MCALLISTER continues reading] Everybody praise Him!<br><br> PRAISE GOD IN HIS SANCTUARY. Everybody praise Him! PRAISE HIM IN THE FIRMAMENT OF HIS POWER.<br><br> Everybody praise Him! FOR HIS MIGHTY ACTS... Everybody praise Him!<br><br> FOR HIS EXCELLENT GREATNESS... Everybody praise Him! WITH THE SOUND OF TRUMPET...<br><br> Everybody praise Him! WITH THE PSALTERY AND HARP& Everybody praise Him! WITH THE TIMBREL AND DANCE& Everybody praise Him!<br><br> WITH THE STRINGED INSTRUMENTS AND ORGANS&Everybody praise Him! UPON THE LOUD CYMBALS&Everybody praise Him! UPON THE HIGH SOUND ING CYMBALS.<br><br> LET EVERY THING (!!!) THAT HAS BREATH PRAISE HIM! [Altos 6 times] Give Him the highest praise& The highest praise [Tenors 2 times] Hallelujah! Sing Hallelujah!<br><br> [DR. MCALLISTER (singing with Choir)] EVERYBODY PRAISE HIM. Everybody praise Him!<br><br> EVERY BODY PRAISE HIM. Everybody praise Him! EVERYBODY PRAISE HIM.<br><br> Everybody praise Him! EVERYBODY LIFT THE SAVIOR& Everybody lift the Savior up!... CLAP YO 9 HANDS& Everybody praise Him!<br><br> AND PRAISE HIM& STOMP YO 9 FEET& Everybody praise Him! AND PRAISE HIM& HE 9S WORTHY (&sung lively, with great conviction)& Everybody praise Him! YES HE IS& Everybody praise Him!<br><br> HE 9S WORTHY& Everybody praise Him! LET 9S LIFT THE SAVIOR& Everybody lift the Savior up! HEY!!<br><br> As the volume and pace reach a crescendo, Dr. McAllister begins exhorting the choir and audience with greater passion. The song 9s climaxing intensity all but forces audience mem- bers to follow the instructions.<br><br> In the beginning, the choir simply admonish- es the audience to praise God. This gentle nudging is manifested in their slight body movements and restrained facial expressions. To the auditors, the music 9s tempo suggests that finger snapping and moderate side-to-side rocking is appropriate.<br><br> Passion and excitement are unmistakably building Continued from page 1 VIEWS December 2004 27 gious sentiment with appreciated free- dom. The interpreter must not stand in the midst of the event detached: the text book definition of interpretation will not suffice. The interpreter must stomp his or her feet.<br><br> S/he must per- form! Dr. McAllister soon orders every- one ( cC 9mon everybody d) to clap their hands.<br><br> How must this charge be con- veyed visually? The interpreter must move rhythmically demonstrating that the source is a song and not discourse. She must express with no doubt that Dr.<br><br> McAllister is yelling. The Deaf con- gregant cannot hear the guttural sounds and exaggerated phrasing sig- naling the song 9s approaching climax. The interpreter 9s body, hands, face, and feet must summon the Deaf audi- tor 9s inclusion and response.<br><br> To do the aforementioned means to render an equivalent and effective translation. The authors anticipate presenting the topic in greater detail at a national interpreter conference. To this end, a formal research project is in progress to determine how religious inter- preters consistently produce effective and equivalent interpretations of reli- gious music.<br><br> Interpreters, religious interpreters in particular, are invited to participate by filling out a brief ques- tionnaire. The online form may be accessed at www.RenaissanceOneCo.com/signlan- guages.html. Works Cited Bauman, R.<br><br> (1977). Verbal Art as Performance . Rowley, MA: Newbury House Publishers.<br><br> I THE PASSION OF THE PROCESS: Religious Interpreting in a Catholic Setting by Suzanne Terrio, C.S.C., Ed.M., M.A., Texas Pre-conferencing the cWord of God d requires having an cin d with the Almighty or having the privilege of a lot of free time with the priest of your choice. Since it is a challenge to find enough priests, deacons, and pastoral workers in general, imagine what is involved in finding consulting time prior to a religious interpreting assign- ment. In response to this need, various priests and people in the Catholic Deaf ministry have authored resource mate- rial to present some background infor- mation to interpret scripture into ASL, a very high-context language.<br><br> Side-by- side ctranslations d with English in one column and a variation of an ASL gloss next to it are not meant to be followed as cookbook formulas. Instead, this material may serve as a loose guide for Deaf readers or for English to ASL interpreters at the Catholic mass. An example of Catholic translation material was presented by Fr.<br><br> Len Broniak, from Houston, in his Grapevine, Texas workshop for reli- gious interpreters. Interpreter trainers may present the English text to inter- preters sitting at tables through an ASL discussion process, and interpreters may create various versions of inter- preting the English text into ASL. The groups work better if at least one Deaf ASL signer views the interpretations and provides feedback in ASL.<br><br> Representatives from each group can model their rendition of the reading to the group at large. The ASL gloss can then be posted on a power point or overhead transparency. Hopefully, interpreters will then experience an cAh hah d moment in response to the material.<br><br> For example: Reading I: English A reading from the book of Exodus. The Amalekite people came and fought against the people of Israel. So Moses said to Joshua, cChoose some men and go and fight the Amalekites tomorrow.<br><br> I will stand on the top of the hill and watch you. I will be holding the walking stick God gave me. d Joshua obeyed Moses and went to fight the Amalekite people the next day. At the same time, Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill.<br><br> Any time Moses held his hands in the air, the men of Israel would win the fight. But when Moses put his hands down, the men of Israel began to lose the fight. After some time, Moses 9 arms became tired.<br><br> (The men with Moses wanted to find a way to keep Moses 9 hands in the air.) So they put a large rock under Moses for him to sit on. Then Aaron and Hur held Moses 9 hands in the air. Aaron was on one side of Moses and Hur was on the other side.<br><br> They held his hands up like this until the sun went down. So Joshua (and his men) defeated the Amalekites in this battle. Word of the Lord--Thanks be to God.<br><br> READING I: ASL EXODUS 17:8-13 BOOK NAME E-X-O-D-U-S TAKEN FROM MAN NAME A-M-A-L-E-K (CL) HAVE ARMY. WAR WITH ISRAEL. MOSES LEAD PEOPLE ISRAEL, JOSHUA BOSS ARMY ISRAEL.<br><br> MOSES TELL JOSHUA: cTOMORROW YOU FIGHT ENEMY d HAPPEN? (rhq) I STAND ON TOP HILL. WATCH.<br><br> GOD 9S STAFF-STICK (CL F) HOLD WILL. JOSHUA GO TO BATTLE- WAR. FIRST, MOSES CLIMB TO TOP HILL.<br><br> TWO MEN, AARON, HUR GO WITH MOSES. THEN, JOSHUA START FIGHT ENEMY. HAPPEN?<br><br> MOSES HOLD- UP HANDS, ISRAEL WIN WIN WIN. BUT MOSES TIRED, HANDS (SLOWLY) FALL DOWN, ENEMY START WIN. DO???<br><br> FIND BIG ROCK MOSES SIT (CL 2) AARON, HUR, HOLD UP HANDS MOSES, HANDS STAY UP STRONG HOLD UP ALL DAY. HAPPEN? JOSHUA AND ARMY ISRAEL KILL MANY ENEMY.<br><br> WIN FIGHT. INFORMATION FROM LORD THANK GOD The Stor y Befor e BACKGROUND God saved the Jews from Egypt and promised to give them a new land for a home. After 40 years in the desert, the Jews finally came to the new land, but there were other people already living there.<br><br> So the Jews had to go into battle to drive away the people and take the new land. The Stor y NOW MEANING In the battle, Moses must ckeep pray- ing d to win and defeat the enemy. God already promised them a new home, but it wasn 9t going to be easy to move in.<br><br> That shows not only that god keeps His promises, but we also must ckeep praying d to know and do God 9s will. The Stor y 9 s Feeling EMOTION While this is just a story about what happened, there is also feeling with it. To win a war is a lot of work and effort.<br><br> The feeling is one of tired, fearful, determination. But at the end, the feel- ing changes to one that is proud and triumphant! (Like DPN PAH!!!) Reading II: English The second letter of Paul to Timothy:<br><br>