Category Archives: Interpreting

50697046 - health care workers are discussing in the hospital corridor, blurred.

Language Access and Medical Schools

By | General, Interpreting | No Comments
Gaurab Basu, MD, MPH, Vonessa Phillips Costa, and Priyank Jain, MD have contributed a valuable commentary to the American Medical Association's Journal of Ethics regarding the use of medical interpreters. In it, they present a case in which a medical student encounters an LEP patient on a rotation with resident physicians. The student speaks the patient's preferred language and intervenes, explaining to the uncomfortable patient that she is part of a teaching session, and is then scolded by the resident physicians for conversing with the patient in a language they cannot understand. The student worries that this may have a...
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How can I start my career as a freelance healthcare interpreter?

By | General, Interpreting | No Comments
My career path to becoming a healthcare interpreter was by no means straightforward. At that time, there was no established path; it seemed almost as if those who were working as professional healthcare interpreters had started their careers by accident. In a way, I also became a healthcare interpreter by accident. In spite of the various local and national interpreter organizations and the availability of national certification for healthcare interpreters, the path has been largely undefined…Until now! The CATIE Center at St. Catherine University developed a Healthcare Interpreting Career Lattice (pictured below) for American Sign Language interpreters that all interpreters...
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#LanguageAccess. What is your biggest Challenge? – Survey Results

By | Interpreting | 2 Comments
Language Access Challenges Gearing up for our fifth annual International Language Services Conference, we wanted to prepare for a diverse discussion between shareholder groups about the biggest challenges in #LanguageAccess by circulating a short survey. Click on each of the three questions to see the results. 1. What stakeholder position best describes your role in #LanguageAccess?2. How would you describe your biggest challenge in that role? Sample responses from each category "Being seen as part of the 'team;' Being able to access information about the patient that would normally be freely given to others who are recognized as colleagues"− Integrating Language Access...
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Accuracy—it doesn’t mean what you think it means!

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A few recent interpreting encounters have inspired me to take a deeper look at the meaning of some of the ethical tenets for professional interpreters. What I've found is that they do not always mean what we think they do at first look, and each tenet is not independent of the others. Rather, they build upon and borrow from each other. Let's look at accuracy. One might interpret accuracy to mean a lack of errors: Types of errors include: Omission, addition, or substitution Literal translation Grammar or syntax errors Lexical errors Distortion Incorrect register Errors in paralinguistic features (Source: "Building...
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2 Easy Steps to Prepare for Your Medical Interpreting Assignment

By | Interpreting | No Comments

You’ve just received a last-minute request to interpret at a local hospital. Unfortunately, you only have 10 minutes to prepare for your assignment and limited information to draw from: Patient name – David Reyes Location – Cath Lab Estimated length of assignment: 4 hours Make the most of your available 10 minutes by following the simple Orient and Predict technique below. All you’ll need is a smartphone, tablet, or computer with Internet access. Orient Yourself What is a Cath Lab and what procedures are done there? You will get answers to both questions by searching Google: “most common procedures in…

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Interpreting Career

How Failure Helped My Interpreting Career

By | Interpreting | 2 Comments

How Failure Helped My Interpreting Career. Interpreting as a career has its up and downs.Think back on your professional interpreting life to a moment when you learned a profound lesson. So now, think back on your professional interpreting life to a moment when you learned a profound lesson. Got it? If the memory is one of a mistake or failure, congratulations! It means that you understand the function of mistakes. And you are in good company. After 1,000 attempts to invent the first functional light bulb, Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t…

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Photo by Oliver F. Atkins. Public domain

Recognizing the Impact of Nonverbal Communication on Interpretation Accuracy

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With the aid of an interpreter, a young Nepali man, Kamal, is meeting his very first primary care physician in the United States. Pushing through a little nervousness, he answers all the doctor’s questions as best he can. Towards the end of the appointment, the doctor responds to one of Kamal’s comments with a strange facial expression. Thinking that he may have somehow insulted the doctor, Kamal instinctively pinches the lobes of his ears, a gesture that is understood in his community to be an apology for causing offense (Matsumoto & Hwang, 2013a). Should the interpreter convey in English the…

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Putting the Ethical Interpreter in Cultural Context

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Ethical dilemma: You are a passenger in a car driven by a close friend, and your friend hits a pedestrian. You know that your friend was going at least 35 miles an hour in a 20-mile zone. There are no witnesses. Your friend’s lawyer says that if you testify under oath that your friend was driving only 20 miles an hour, you would save him/her from any serious consequences. Would you lie to protect your friend? How you answer may vary tremendously depending on the part of the world in which you grew up. That became clear to researchers Fons…

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Do No Harm: Confidentiality in Community Interpreting

By | Interpreting | One Comment

Look at any professional code of ethics for interpreters and at the very top of the list, you’ll find the tenet of confidentiality. The fact that it is so prominent signifies its connection to the most fundamental principle of all interpreter ethical standards: the interpreter shall cause no harm (NAD-RID, 2005). Language serves two primary purposes: to facilitate social relationships and allow self-expression (Chomsky, 2004). It is the key to our success as a species. All humans regulate which information they wish to share with others: either to enhance social relationships or to be understood. When a person, government, or company…

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