Uh I Am Not Understanding You at All: Constructing (Mis)Understanding in Provider/Patient-Interpreted Medical Encounters

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Citations (Scopus)


In multilingual societies, patients seeking health care and the healthcare professionals who serve them oftendo not speak the same language. In a healthcare encounter, in both urban and rural areas, effective communication between these providers and patients is enabled by interpreters. Interpreters vary in their abilities and qualifi cations;moreover, for some language combinations there simply are as yet no professional interpreters. In this chapter I present a transcript of a typical healthcare provider—patient conversation about the patient's current health concern contextualized in her medical history and medicine intake. I examine the co-construction of understanding among the interlocutors and the way in which they work together in an attempt to communicate. The data are part of a larger ethnographic study (Angelelli, 2001 & 2004a) conducted in a public hospital in California, where interpreters work for Spanishspeaking patients and English-speaking healthcare providers in both face-to-face and over-the-speakerphone interpreted communicative events (ICEs). This study has practical and theoretical implications for interpreting studies in general and for the education of healthcare interpreters and healthcare providers in particular.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInvestigations in Healthcare Interpreting
PublisherGallaudet University Press
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9781563686146
ISBN (Print)9781563686122
Publication statusPublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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