Acting upon background of understanding rather than role
Shifting the focus from the interactional to the inferential dimension of (medical) dialogue interpreting
Research into dialogue interpreting has thus far focused on its interactional dimension. Only recently have cognitive approaches been introduced. This article uses the situated cognition and functional pragmatics paradigms to explain how a broad and holistic understanding of the (healthcare) set-up in which dialogue interpreting assignments take place enables interpreters to develop an awareness of the purpose-orientation of medical professionals’ (inter)action plan. This understanding forms part of an inferential mental backdrop that allows interpreters to go from bottom-up drifting to gaining top-down control over their task. On the basis of a corpus of 19 interpreter-mediated doctor-patient encounters, the article suggests that it is acting upon an integral background of understanding as inferential basis (rather than role) that empowers dialogue interpreters to perform successfully.