Communication & Medicine, Vol 15, No 2 (2018)

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

Peter Roger, Chris Code
Issued Date: 14 Mar 2020


A setting which presents special challenges for interpreter-mediated communication is the speech pathologyclinic, particularly when the encounter involvesthe assessment of aphasia. Drawing on a corpus offive interpreter-mediated assessments of aphasia inspeakers of a range of languages (Cantonese, Greek,Tagalog and Vietnamese), this paper presents thefindings of an interactive framing analysis of thecorpus, focusing on illustrative extracts from two of theencounters. Analysis reveals that while the interpretersare frequently oriented towards issues of ‘meaning’ or‘content’, the speech pathologists are generally orientedto issues of ‘form’. This is evident from the fact that thespeech pathologists frequently question the interpretersabout the ways in which the speaker’s language isabnormal. The interpreters, however, tend to respondto such questions with reference to their impressions ofthe person’s intended meaning. It is argued that thesedifferences in orientation can be explained by thedifferent professional knowledge schemata of speechpathologists and interpreters and the fundamentally‘uninterpretable’ nature of many of the speakers’utterances. This lack of shared understanding makesthe interaction inefficient, and frequently results ina situation where the person with aphasia is put ‘onhold’. The paper concludes with a discussion of somepractical implications for the conduct of interpretermediatedaphasia assessments.

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DOI: 10.1558/cam.38680


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