Accepted Paper:

Capitalizing on "diversity": medical interpreting at a Swiss hospital  

Authors:

Beatriz Lorente (University of Fribourg)
Sebastian Muth (University of Fribourg)
Alexandre Duchene (University of Fribourg)

Paper short abstract:

Translation or interpreting services are directly connected to the linguistic dimension of people’s circulation processes. This paper analyzes how different interpreting services are organized and valued at a public hospital in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.

Paper long abstract:

Perhaps more than any other language industry, translation or interpreting services are directly connected to the linguistic dimension of people's circulation processes. They are a means of addressing the immediate language needs of migrants; at the same time, other migrants often do the interpreting work. This paper examines the linguistic stakes that emerge as interpreting services capitalize on the circulation of migrants. Specifically, this paper focuses on the contexts of healthcare, a central terrain where interpreting services are utilized and managed. Against the backdrop of a linguistically diverse workforce and an increasing number of patients with equally diverse linguistic backgrounds, this paper analyzes how interpreting services are organized at a public hospital in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. While the ability to communicate with patients from various linguistic and cultural backgrounds is a central motivation for the provision of interpreting services, it also ensures the effective management of patients and the functioning of the hospital. This raises the question of the valorization of languages and speakers. The hospital utilizes the linguistic resources of interpreters from a non-government organization, a for-profit telephone interpreting service and in addition, it trains its own workers who have migrant backgrounds to be flexibly available as medical interpreters. Informed by ethnographic research as well as semi-structured interviews with workers, we intend to trace the trajectories of different sets of interpreters and highlight the tensions between the language ideologies that shape how their work is understood, justified and evaluated within the hospital.

Panel RM-LL06
Speakers on the move: displacement, surveillance and engagement [IUAES Commission of Linguistic Anthropology]