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Devon Asmus











Michael ZukoskyProfessor, Department of Geology and Anthropology, EWU

TRiO McNair Research Internship:____________________________________________________________

Between the Two: Investigating Medical Interpretation of Disease across Language and Culture
How do medical interpreters deal with the culturally specific concept of a disease across language and culture in clinical encounters in the United States?  This project explores how medical interpreters compensate for culturally specific conceptualizations in a source language while maintaining fidelity in target languages during interpretation in the Spokane, WA area and tests existing theory provided by general translation and interpretation studies. In an I.R.B approved qualitative study with medical interpreters working with non-Indo-European languages in the Spokane area health community, I highlight interpreters' own narrative explanations of the process of interpretation.  Furthermore, I evaluate the degree to which those explanations support or refute theories in translation and interpretation studies related to the notion of linguistic incommensurability, distinct languages often have culturally-specific vocabulary that is difficult or impossible to translate and interpret. Preliminary results from the interviews indicate that medical interpreters interpret American culturally specific ideas of disease which lack an equivalent in the target language by using that language's terms for the shared, physical referents of English anatomical and biomedical terms.  My findings have implications for the development of new theory within translation studies because they show how conceptual fidelity of vocabulary should not necessarily be the goal within medical interpretation so much as the physical referents to which those words refer to, a theory I term "referential fidelity."

Conference Presentations:__________________________________________________________________

Honors and Awards:______________________________________________________________________

  • McNair Scholar Summer Internship, Awarded $2,800. The goal of the McNair Program is to increase the attainment of PhD degrees by students from underrepresented segments of society. (2014)
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