Translation in healthcare settings: between the 'voice of medicine' and the 'voice of patient'

  • Farini F
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While researching doctor-patient communication, a form of doctor-centered communication defined as the "voice of medicine", based on the supremacy of knowledge of doctors as qualified experts has been observed (Mishler 1984). On the bases of this primary function of illness treatment, the healthcare system legitimizes the primacy of the technical knowledge of doctors. In a multicultural society, doctor-patient communication may become both an interlinguistic and an intercultural communication, pointing out problems of reciprocal understanding and acceptance. The observed difficulties in communication encourage healthcare systems to promote mediation. Mediation consists in the intervention of a third person, the interpreter, who promotes reciprocal understanding between participants, by fulfilling their expectations and preventing misunderstandings and conflicts. The paper we propose explores healthcare interactions involving speakers of different languages and an interpreter in hospital settings in Northern Italy. The questions we explore with this paper are: how interpreters coordinate the talk activity? In which conversational conditions may a patient-centred communication be accomplished in interpreter-mediated interactions? In which way the interpreter’s contribution enhances the voice of patients, or preserves the primacy of the voice of medicine? [Source: BITRA / J. Franco]




Farini, F. (2010). Translation in healthcare settings: between the “voice of medicine” and the “voice of patient.” In M. del R. Caballero Rodríguez & M. J. Pinar Sanz (Eds.), Ways and modes of human communication (pp. 1213–1220). Ediciones de la Universidad de Castilla La Mancha.

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