This study is concerned with the way in which professional reformulations of asylum seekers' oral reports, made by officials after institutional interviews, often involve (a) a displacement of these reports from their original experiential contexts, and (b) their written reframing - or entextualization (Urban 1996) - within completely new contexts. This is so because entextualization practice follows culture-specific parameters of contextual logic and indexicality, as well as textual coherence and cohesion, which are conventionally accepted by Western forensic methods of analysis, but do not correspond to the parameters adopted by asylum seekers in their original reports (Blommaert 1997). Such a discrepancy may give rise to serious diplomatic problems and injustices. Hence the choice in this study of Hymes' (2003) ethnopoetic approach to the analysis of oral narrative, which demonstrates how the analyst's rewriting practice can reveal 'non-conventional' patterns of language coherence, thus showing what asylum seekers themselves consider as relevant in their narrative. Ethnopoetic analysis is carried out on an extract from an interview with a Sierra Leonean asylum seeker, conducted by an Italian Law student (using English as the lingua franca) soon after this claimant had undergone an audition with a committee for the refugees' rights. Stage One of analysis reveals patterns of metaphorical coherence marking the asylum seeker's narration in Sierra Leonean Krio English. This is a creole variety that keeps the Proto-Indoeuropean semantic feature of using concepts and vocabulary from the physical domain of experience to refer to the domain of reasoning (Sweetser 1990). The subsequent focus on translation into Italian, representing the chosen entextualization practice (cf. Slembrouck 1999), shows how ethnopoetic analysis can help the correct interpretation of Krio 'physical' metaphors as an expression of the asylum seeker's states of mind. Stage Two demonstrates, by contrast, how conventional forensic analysis of the same report may induce analysts (i.e., three subjects with different professional backgrounds) to found their translations on their own 'differently biased' interpretation processes. The result is context misconstruction. References Blommaert, Jan. 1997. "The Slow Shift in Orthodoxy: (Re)formulations of 'Integration' in Belgium", in C. Briggs (ed.), Conflict and Violence in Pragmatic Research. Special issue of Pragmatics, 7, pp. 499-518. Hymes, Dell. 2003. Now I Know Only So Far: Essays in Ethnopoetics. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Slembrouck, Stef. 1999. "Translation, Direct Quotation and Recontextualization". Perspectives: Studies in Translatology, 7, pp. 81-108. Sweetser, Eve E. 1990. From Etymology to Pragmatics: Metaphorical and Cultural Aspects of Semantic Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Urban, Greg. 1996. "Entextualization, Replication and Power", in M. Silverstein and G. Urban (eds.), Natural Histories of Discourse. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, pp. 21-44.
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