Item Details

Interpreter-mediated aphasia assessments: Mismatches in frames and professional orientations

Issue: Vol 15 No. 2 (2018) Special Issue: Interpreter-Mediated Healthcare Encounters

Journal: Communication & Medicine

Subject Areas: Healthcare Communication Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/cam.38680


A setting which presents special challenges for interpreter-
mediated communication is the speech pathology
clinic, particularly when the encounter involves
the assessment of aphasia. Drawing on a corpus of
five interpreter-mediated assessments of aphasia in
speakers of a range of languages (Cantonese, Greek,
Tagalog and Vietnamese), this paper presents the
findings of an interactive framing analysis of the
corpus, focusing on illustrative extracts from two of the
encounters. Analysis reveals that while the interpreters
are frequently oriented towards issues of ‘meaning’ or
‘content’, the speech pathologists are generally oriented
to issues of ‘form’. This is evident from the fact that the
speech pathologists frequently question the interpreters
about the ways in which the speaker’s language is
abnormal. The interpreters, however, tend to respond
to such questions with reference to their impressions of
the person’s intended meaning. It is argued that these
differences in orientation can be explained by the
different professional knowledge schemata of speech
pathologists and interpreters and the fundamentally
‘uninterpretable’ nature of many of the speakers’
utterances. This lack of shared understanding makes
the interaction inefficient, and frequently results in
a situation where the person with aphasia is put ‘on
hold’. The paper concludes with a discussion of some
practical implications for the conduct of interpretermediated
aphasia assessments.

Author: Peter Roger, Chris Code

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