LINGUIST List 15.247

Fri Jan 23 2004

Diss: Applied Ling: Meyer: 'Dolmetschen...'

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  1. Bernd Meyer, Dolmetschen im medizinischen Aufklrungsgesprch

Message 1: Dolmetschen im medizinischen Aufklrungsgesprch

Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2004 12:47:34 -0500 (EST)
From: Bernd Meyer <>
Subject: Dolmetschen im medizinischen Aufklrungsgesprch

Institution: University of Hamburg 
Program: Department of German
Dissertation Status: Completed 
Degree Date: 2002 

Author: Bernd Meyer

Dissertation Title: Dolmetschen im medizinischen
Aufkl�rungsgespr�ch. Eine diskursanalytische Untersuchung zur
Wissensvermittlung im mehrsprachigen Krankenhaus.

Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics, Discourse Analysis, Pragmatics, 

Subject Language: Portuguese (code: POR)

Dissertation Director 1: Jochen Rehbein
Dissertation Director 2: Juliane House
Dissertation Director 3: Kristin Buehrig
Dissertation Director 4: Juergen Meisel

Dissertation Abstract:

This book is based on my dissertation which was accepted in 2003 by
the University of Hamburg. The topic is doctor-patient communication
interpreted by so called 'ad hoc interpreters', i.e. bilingual nurses
or relatives of the patient. The data stems from authentic
doctor-patient-interactions in German hospitals. The first language of
patients and interpreters is Portuguese, but there is a difference
between the two groups: whereas the patients had acquired Portuguese
in Portugal, the interpreters in most cases acquired it in Germany as
their home language. Most patients speak a bit of German, too, but do
not speak it well enough to understand the specialized talk of the
physicians and therefore need the support of a bilingual person.

The aim of the study is to show how laypersons interpret medical terms
that are important for the achievement of certain communicative
purposes in briefings for informed consent. The basic assumption is
that doctors verbalize medical knowledge by using specific linguistic
forms and that untrained interpreters will have difficulty in finding
equivalent linguistic forms in the target language.

The book is organized as follows: after an introduction (chapter 1)
and a critical review of other discourse-analytical approaches to
medical interpreting (chapter 2), the institutional setting is
analyzed in order to show how the linguistic structure of briefings
for informed consent is shaped by the institutional framework
(chapters 3 and 4). Announcing and describing the method are
considered to be those speech actions that are, among others,
constitutive for the achievement of institutional purposes in
briefings for informed consent. By announcing and describing the
method, the doctor orients the patient towards a professional plan,
thus ensuring future cooperation on the patient's behalf.

Terms that designate the method as a whole ("Magenspiegelung",
gastroscopy), parts of the body ("Speiser�hre", esophagus) or
instruments ("Schlauch", tube) are important for this communicative
process. The qualitative analysis of four briefings for informed
consent (chapter 5 and 6) in diagnostic settings reveals that ad hoc
interpreters have difficulty with some of the linguistic forms and
that they use certain procedures to compensate for these
difficulties. Medical terms are repeated in German (insertional
code-switching) or replaced by non-terminological forms. In some
cases, interpreters make the attempt to translate complex compounds by
transferring parts of them, one after the other, into the target
language. This procedure has the most noticeable impact on the
interaction, as the interpreters usually end up explaining these parts
and, in so doing, disrupt the coherence of the doctor's discourse.

The analysis shows that the interpreters' processing of the
source-language discourse is strongly determined by their
understanding of the doctor-patient-relationship and their knowledge
of the respective methods and the medical issues. Even nurses may find
it difficult to designate parts of the body or organs in their native
language, because these terms are familiar to them only in German, not
in Portuguese. Relatives of the patient attempt to downplay or ignore
possible negative aspects of the medical procedure in order to calm
the patient down.

We may conclude (chapter 7 and 8) that the information provided to the
patient in briefings for informed consent is less accurate and
complete if the interpreters are non-trained bilinguals. Interpreter
training should therefore attempt to provide information about the
communicative function of frequent types of discourse, such as medical
interviews or briefings for informed consent, and it should focus on
those linguistic forms that play an important role for the achievement
of communicative purposes.
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