South African Journal of African Languages

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Exploring the impact of linguistic barriers on health outcomes: A linguistic analysis of ad hoc medical interpreting in Lesotho hospitals

Raphael Thuube, Beatrice Ekanjume-Ilongo


This study analysed the impact of linguistic errors on negotiation of medical outcomes involving communication between non-Sesotho-speaking doctors and monolingual Basotho patients whose intercultural medical interactions were mediated by ad hoc interpreters. The study finds that interpreting in this setting is conducted on an ad hoc basis. To this end, this study used five linguistic categories, namely omission, editorialisation, addition, substitution and distortion to explore the linguistic errors committed by ad hoc medical interpreters during cross-linguistic communicative encounters between non-Sesotho-speaking doctors and monolingual Basotho patients. The study was conducted in out-patient departments of two hospitals, one at the St. Joseph’s Hospital in Roma and the other at the Quthing Hospital in Quthing. Audio recordings and direct observations of the actual triadic interactions between the participants were made after the latter granted their permission to be observed and
recorded. The audio recorded data were transcribed and analysed on a turn-by-turn basis.
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