Review Essay: Discourse "Makes" Reality—A Discourse Analysis About Translating Medical Briefings

Werner Schneider


Medical briefings between physicians and their patients are intended to inform the patient about his disease and ongoing medical treatment as well as to get the patient's consent (agreement). But what happens in these consultations if the patient does not have an adequate grasp of the language to understand the medical explanation and if the dialogue is translated ad hoc—whether by his relatives or by bilingual hospital employees? How is knowledge transfer and the structure of interaction affected by hearing the physicians' discourse through the interpreter? The reviewed linguistic publication follows a discourse analytical approach and examines briefings for informed consent in the hospital, which are translated ad hoc from German into Portuguese. It can be shown that the knowledge transfer for the patient changes, and further, how the communicative order of medical institutional discourse is broken up and thus the quality of consultation for non-German-speaking patients worsens. Following up on the findings of this analysis, the problem of multilingual communication and interaction in the medical field and in other institutional contexts could provide an ongoing research focus on the basis of an interdisciplinary extended discourse analytical perspective.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs050131


linguistics; discourse analysis; medical knowledge; multilingual; hospital; briefings for informed consent


Copyright (c) 2005 Werner Schneider

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