A typology of healthcare interpreter positionings
When “neutral” means “proactive”
The conceptual vagueness surrounding the role of the public service interpreter can hinder collaboration between interpreters and providers. Inspired by Mason’s work on interpreter positioning, the study aimed to clarify providers’ expectations of the role of the interpreter in order to strengthen interprofessional collaboration. A typological analysis was conducted based on 23 healthcare providers’ perceptions of the public service interpreter. The Typology of Healthcare Interpreter Positionings features eight positionings that reinforce the interprofessional collaboration and nine that compromise it. The result is a concrete portrait that depicts the neutrality of the public service interpreter as a powerful driver of collaboration. Providers also agree that interpreters must be able to take their place in the consultation, even if it means being assertive and modifying the discourse of the interlocutors. Navigating such situations while maintaining the provider’s trust requires interactional knowledge (soft skills), which complements technical knowledge (hard skills). The Typology represents a communication tool that both providers and interpreters can use to foster collaboration. It also represents a professionalization tool as it reiterates the importance of neutrality in the work of public service interpreters and their social positioning as professionals.
Keywords: public service interpreting, neutrality, intercultural communication, interprofessional collaboration, positioning
Published online: 30 November 2020
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