Sunday, May 17, 2009

Medical Interpreting and Translation


To continue with my last post about language, I thought I'd share a little of what I learned at a medical interpretation training I took a few months ago. What fascinated me about the training, were the skills that were simply not intuitive. Many bilingual people end up interpreting at some point. But just speaking two languages fluently doesn't make you a good interpreter- and I say that, because I know at this time I am not a good interpreter. Here's what I learned:

Interpretation and Translation are not the same thing.

Interpretation facilitates
oral communication.
Translation facilitates
written communication.

Consecutive interpretation
involves someone speaking a short phrase and then pausing, allowing the interpreter time to interpret. This is the most appropriate method for medical situations.

Simultaneous interpretation
involves a continuous narrative while the interpreter interprets without pauses. This method is usually used in diplomatic situations, like at the UN, and is best for one-way communication, such as a speech.

Sight translation
means reading out an on-the-spot translation of a document.

Ask both the patient and the provider to speak clearly and in short phrases making sure not to leave anything out, or add anything. Interpret everything said at the encounter without paraphrasing.

The interpreter should minimize their importance in a meeting. They should sit beside and slightly behind the patient. They should not look at the provider or the patient. They should insist the provider and patient talk directly to each other.

Speak in the first person when interpreting for both the patient and the provider. Say "I feel like this..." not "She says she feels like this..." The provider should speak directly to the patient and not to the interpreter. Interpreters should encourage the patient and provider to have a good relationship. Our goal is to create a situation as close to an English-speaker's as possible.

If you don’t understand something that was said, don’t be shy about asking to hear it again. If you don’t know how to say a medical term in the target language, ask the provider to put it into simpler terms and interpret the explanation.

next post .


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