Academic journal article Translation & Interpreting

"I Feel We Don't Really Understand Each Other": Interpreting Medication Instructions for a Turkish-Speaking Diabetes Patient

Academic journal article Translation & Interpreting

"I Feel We Don't Really Understand Each Other": Interpreting Medication Instructions for a Turkish-Speaking Diabetes Patient

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

This paper reports on a study using a small data set taken from a project entitled "Interpreting in medical settings: roles, requirements and responsibilities" which was conducted between 2010 and 2012. The team of researchers involved in the study compiled a corpus of 19 interactions amounting to 14:42 hours of video material. The consultations were recorded in three hospitals in Switzerland, the university hospitals of Basel and Zurich and the Inselspital in Bern. These three hospitals have contracts with Swiss agencies which recruit interpreters for them (cf. Hudelson, 2013, p. 2).

All of the 19 video tapes involved interpretation of Albanian and Turkish into and from German. Once the data was gathered, the Albanian and the Turkish parts were translated into German and fully transcribed by interpreters who had worked for several years as interpreters in medical settings. The interactions were analysed by linguists as well as by medical experts. For the transcription we used the EXMERaLDA software tool and a simplified version of the GAT conversation analysis transcription system (cf. Selting et al. 2009). This paper builds on Hofer et al., 2013a, in which further information on the project can be found.

The overall aim of the empirical pilot study was to deepen our understanding of a broad range of phenomena pertaining to the work of medical interpreters in various real-world situations. The interdisciplinary research team consisted of medical doctors, psychologists, linguists and interpreting researchers with different research interests. A combination of different research methods and approaches were deployed in the project (cf. Sleptsova et al., 2014; Hofer et al., 2013a). The quantitative analysis of the video material was based on pre-defined categories of inadequacies, such as changes of meaning during the interpretation or an observable lack of domain-specific expertise, to ascertain the relevance of such aspects to the effectiveness of the communicative exchange. We also wanted to explore the impact of certain behaviours on the dynamics of the discourse under observation.

In this paper, we discuss nine excerpts from one of the 19 interactions, which features the language pair German--Turkish. The nine excerpts examined are taken from a diabetic consultation and last ten minutes (16:06-26:15) of the whole encounter of 29 minutes, 39 seconds. The selected excerpts focus on the interpretation of the physician's (PH) explanations of the instructions on how the patient (PAT), who has to monitor his blood glucose levels to control his diabetes, should use the medication. The interpreter (INT) is not university trained, but she does work regularly as a medical interpreter and is registered with a Swiss agency.

The analysis focuses on two questions:

* If an interpreter does not have the necessary domain-specific knowledge, does it hamper communication? If so, in what ways?

* Can interpreters bridge any knowledge gap they may have by drawing on other resources during the communicative exchange?

One of the common points of interest in the design of the original research project was the impact of interpreters' medical knowledge on the discourse in which they partook. We explored these excerpts within the context of specific aspects of discourse analysis (conjunctions and cohesion, cf. Tebble, 2007), the Effort Model applied to consecutive interpreting (Gile 2009), and models of text comprehension (Van Dijk & Kintsch, 1983; Schnotz, 2006).

2. Results

In this section, the excerpts are numbered and presented in the order in which they occur during the consultation. The exchanges are transcribed according to the conventions described in section 1 (Introduction). The transcription conventions used for the excerpts are presented in Appendix A.

Excerpt 1

Excerpt 1 starts with the physician telling the patient about the two most important objectives of the instructions:

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