Publication details [#302]

Drennan, Gerard and Leslie Swartz. 1999. A concept over-burdened: institutional roles for psychiatric interpreters in post-apartheid South Africa. Interpreting 4 (2) : 169–198.
Publication type
Article in jnl/bk
Publication language
Journal DOI


This article describes the role of the interpreter in health care settings in South Africa. Regarding the limited language resources in health care, the role of the interpreter has particular currency. However, interpreters’ multiple roles in health care contexts have been extensively and controversially described. These are briefly reviewed before interpreter latitude is discussed. The roles for interpreters are explored through the evaluation of an interpreter project at psychiatric hospitals. Four themes in the talk of the service providers and the interpreters are described: the interpreter as ‘language specialist’; as ‘culture specialist’; as ‘patient advocate’; and as ‘institutional therapist’ are explored. The author identifies three potential areas of difficulty for South African interpreters: the question of organisational support for the advocacy role; the dynamics and micro-politics of multi-disciplinary team work, and the need for sub-specialisation in aspects of clinical psychology.
Source : Based on abstract in journal