Examining the “voice of interpreting” in speech pathology

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This paper investigates professional interpreting practice in the setting of speech pathology through a multifaceted analysis of the transcripts of three recorded sessions involving first-generation Italian-speaking immigrants to Australia and English-speaking healthcare professionals working in Melbourne. Applying Mishler’s notion of “voice” to the context of interpreter-mediated communication and focusing on a selection of linguistic features — ranging from turn-taking and topic development to the interpreter’s choice of footing, departures from the primary speakers’ utterances, and use of prosodic resources — the discussion identifies the voice that interpreters, as third participants in the interaction, choose to adopt between the “voice of medicine” and the “voice of the lifeworld”. The study is of a qualitative nature, although a general indication of the frequency of certain features is supplied, and interpreting conduct is described rather than prescribed. The reporting and interpretation of findings are, however, informed by and reflect issues of value revolving around the concept of “humane medical care”.


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