The best part of hurricanes making travel plans for South Carolina is getting to watch Jason Hurdich at the press conferences. He rose to fame in 2016, and those of us who only ever watch the governor if it looks like the state might blow away have been enjoying his work again this round. SC hurricane briefings are a linguistic buffet even without Hurdich (especially with McMaster at the helm), but Hurdich adds an extra layer of interest because he is a Certified Deaf Interpreter. I want to quickly explain why CDI’s are valuable, because some people wonder about that part.
A CDI is a deaf or hard-of-hearing person who partners with a hearing interpreter. The process works like this: The governor (or whoever) says what he or she is going to say. A hearing interpreter signs that message to the CDI. The CDI then re-signs the same message out to the Deaf audience.
This confuses (hearing) people a little, because they wonder: Why the relay? If you have one interpreter already, why add a second?
The answer is that certain native speakers of any language have a better command of their language, and better communication skills, than other people do.
Imagine for a moment that you are trying to find out what is happening in some corner of the world where the residents speak no English. There’s a local guy who’s taken English classes, and he can interpret what his fellow citizens are saying pretty well. His accent is strong, sometimes his syntax is stilted, and sometimes he uses archaic terms. It’s not that you can’t understand him, but many English speakers would have to strain a little as they made the effort to follow his interpretation.
So you add a second person to the chain, someone who is very skilled at communicating to a native English-speaking audience. She doesn’t speak the foreign language, but she is very good at taking stilted English-as-a-second-language and rendering it so that the message is quickly and easily understood by local Americans, or whatever regional English-speaking audience you are trying to reach.
–> If you were trying to reach the average listener an Ireland, you would use a different native speaker. This is exactly why US, British, and Australian news agencies send their own reporters into other countries, rather than relying on a local resident with not-that-bad-of-English. It’s just easier for a skilled American reporter to communicate with Americans, a skilled Australian reporter to communicate with Austrailians, and so on.
A Certified Deaf Interpreter is that. When you have a message that’s really important to communicate clearly, you choose a spokesperson who is particularly skilled in the native language of the audience.
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