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Public defense: Randi Havnen

Randi Havnen will defend her thesis: “Sight translation – Safe translation? Exploring meaning-making and interaction from a multimodal perspective” for the degree of PhD in Educational Sciences for Teacher Education.

The public defense will be interpreted to Norwegian sign language

Trial lecture

The trial lecture starts at 10:00 in Zoom.

Title: Understanding sight-translated interaction. What multimodal theory can tell us about the interpreter’s practice.

Zoom link to the trial lecture and public defense (

Password: 865562

Public defense

The candidate will defend her thesis at 12:15.

Title of the thesis: "Sight translation – Safe translation? Exploring meaning-making and interaction from a multimodal perspective".

Zoom link to the trial lecture and public defense (

Password: 865562

Ordinary opponents

Leader of the public defense


Digital defense information

Due to limitations on physical participation as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, the public defense will be conducted as a webinar on the zoom digital platform.

The link to the trial lecture and digital defense in Zoom will be available via link on this page. OsloMet students and employees use OsloMet account ( Others can download Zoom ( or use a browser.

How to oppose ex auditorio

Please send your question to the host during the break, before the second opponent begins. Raise your digital hand by clicking "Participants" at the bottom of the zoom window and choose "Raise Hand" if you want to voice the question yourself after both opponents have finished their questions. The technical administrator will ask to activate your microphone. Click Yes.

Publication of the approved PhD thesis

Request a copy of the PhD thesis by e-mail. Include the name of the PhD candidate.

  • Abstract

    This thesis consists of three articles and a comprehensive introduction to the work. The overarching aim is to contribute to the understanding of sight translation, i.e. translation from writing into speech, in terms of the theoretical understanding of the method, how meaning-making is influenced by sight translation and how interactional patterns are affected by the act of sight translation. To investigate the practice, I lean on a multimodal understanding of communication. The analyses are rooted in systemic functional linguistics in its extension to other modes, social semiotics and mediated discourse theory. 

    The data consist of a simulation of an interpreted institutional meeting between a Norwegian-speaking public service representative (PSR) and a Serbian-speaking public service user (PSU). A certified interpreter is translating. The simulation is conducted three times with different PSUs and interpreters. During the meeting, the PSR hands a leaflet to the interpreter, who is asked to sight translate for the PSU. The written text draws on several resources: language, layout, graphics and images. The meeting is video recorded from two angles. In addition to the recordings, the PSR and the interpreters wrote their immediate reflections after the simulations, whilst I interviewed the PSUs in Serbian. 
    The research questions that I aim to answer in this thesis are as follows: 

    • How does multimodality increase our understanding of sight translation, both as a method and as an interactional practice? 
    • How can new knowledge about sight translation inform practice?

    Three articles compose the main body of knowledge, starting with a critical review of research literature that discusses established challenges in sight transition from a multimodal perspective. Basing on the findings, I question whether sight translation is a suitable method for conveying information. I also detect a need for further research on the communicative aspects of sight translation. The second paper analyses the meaning-making process and shifts in meaning potential imposed by translation strategies and modal shifts. These shifts are analysed from a social semiotic and metafunctional perspective (Kress & Van Leeuwen, 1996, 2001). The third paper discusses the influence of the act of sight translation on the interactional pattern in the communicative event and the effect this has on attention and agency. The analytical framework is that of multimodal (inter)action analysis (Norris, 2004, 2019b).

    The textual analysis in Article 2 is based on an information leaflet and the interpreters’ renditions of the text, with special attention to the graphic resources in the source text, along with some verbal issues, such as deictic elements and information in the footnote. The findings from this analysis confirm that the change of mode, together with the interpreters’ choices, affects meaning-making related to all metafunctions, especially the interpersonal one. 

    The interactional analysis focuses on the pattern in the sight-translated phase of the meeting in terms of rhythm, measured through the concept of modal density, which indicates attention and agency. The findings are that the act of sight translation (reading aloud) affects the social actors’ agency and that the interpreter has received control in the situation. Based on the reflections and interviews, a lack of shared practice related to sight translation emerges, which also distorts the interactional rhythm, as the social actors do not know how to align with one another. I argue that the interpreter should take responsibility for counteracting the other actors’ reduced agency, as this is imposed by the translation method. 

    Altogether, the three articles form the basis for a discussion on which knowledge is needed to understand and conduct sight translation. I argue that interpreters must not only have competence in multimodal analysis and mediation, but they also need to attend to interactional issues, securing agency in sight translation. I then argue how the theoretical perspectives and the analytical frameworks I have used are relevant to interpreting, in general, both regarding understanding meaning-making and understanding interaction.

    The thesis is not only a contribution to interpreting studies but also a drip to multimodality studies by investigating the proximal modes of writing and speech. It likewise touches upon literacy studies by accentuating the scarcely documented literacy practice that reading aloud for adults is.