Although the interpreter’s function in interaction has attracted significant interest in the literature, the focus is often restricted to verbal interaction alone. This paper introduces an analytical framework, based on Goffman’s construct of role, to examine how participants’ actions: (i) carry communicative meaning that complements their use of language; ii) are interdependent with those of other participants. The analysis also takes into account the normative frameworks which, to a certain extent, shape the interpreter’s and the doctor’s actions. Transcribed excerpts of two authentic medical consultations are examined, along with video stills. The recordings, with interpreting between Dutch and Russian, were made at a Belgian hospital; informed consent and ethical approval were obtained. It is shown that interpreters’ use of non-verbal resources can favour the patient’s inclusion in interaction when s/he is bypassed by the doctor, possibly interested in involving only the interpreter and in leaving little, if any, opportunity for the patient’s voice to be heard.
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