International Journal of Language & Linguistics

ISSN 2374-8850 (Print), 2374-8869 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/ijll

Investigating the Effects of a (Non-) Professional Interpreting Service in Healthcare
Harold M. Lesch

Much of our societal interaction is sustained and enriched by communication across linguistic borders between fellow citizens, which is not necessarily due to the influx of people from less affluent countries. In contrast to the often figurative gesture of an interpreting service, interpreting does in fact take place at the coalface of everyday activities where a linguistic impasse occurs. Even though we subscribe to the notion of parity and esteem of our languages, the reality is, however, that our daily life is saturated by inconsistent power inequality and redress. Interpreting in such instances cannot be “a neutral and symmetrical exchange between two equal cultural forces” (Mezei et al., 2014:13). Interpreters – whether trained, poorly trained or untrained – have crucial and often unrecognised and unforeseen effects. Consequently, this article surpasses official multilingualism, the movement between the languages concerned and the analysis of linguistic transfer. Instead, the focus is on the social effects of interpreting. The practical aspects of interpreting and the examination of the societal context of interpreting are the central points in this article. A language barrier between patients and healthcare service providers is a major stumbling block for the provision of quality care to a culturally diverse society. Such an obstacle correlates negatively with patient satisfaction and studies have showed that patients experiencing language difficulties are less likely to return for follow-up consultations and also less likely to comply with prescriptions (Schlemmer, 2005:4). Against this backdrop, this article will take as its methodology revisiting instances of healthcare interpreting services. These instances will be contextualised and framed in terms of the society in which they occur. This will be done with reference to the event and effect (see Chesterman, 1998). The ultimate goal is to determine and deliberate on the event and effect in terms of the practical aspects of interpreting and the examination of the societal context of interpreting.

Full Text: PDF