13. What can interpreters learn from discourse studies?

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The literature on discourse studies is vast yet the field of community interpreting has been fairly slow in making good use of it. This chapter briefly outlines three approaches to discourse analysis and emphasizes the sociolinguistic importance of the speech event. Implications of some of the findings from discourse studies of medical interpreting using the social semiotic approach (systemic functional linguistics) are discussed. They are: the generic structure of the interpreted medical consultation; interpreting everything that is said including organisational discourse markers and feedback to the patient; understanding the physician’s checking strategies; and the role of cohesion in the interpreted exchange. All are relevant for high quality curriculum design and teaching of community interpreting courses; and high quality professional practice.


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