Conveying medication prescriptions in American Sign Language: Use of emphasis in translations by interpreters and deaf physicians

Brenda Nicodemus, Laurie Swabey, Christopher Moreland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In this study we examine linguistic features produced by interpreters and deaf bilingual physicians when translating medication instructions from English into American Sign Language (ASL). In the U.S. healthcare system, signed language interpreters are frequently called upon to facilitate communication between deaf individuals who use ASL and their non-signing physicians. A small but growing number of deaf individuals are now pursuing medical training, creating a situation in which deaf patients can communicate in ASL with their healthcare providers. Numerous practical and perceptual barriers affect patients' medication intake behaviors, including comprehension, memory of instructions, and language differences between physicians and patients. Research indicates that language concordance increases patients' compliance to prescription treatment. It follows that direct communication in ASL between deaf patients and deaf physicians will positively impact treatment compliance of patients and may result in better recall of medical instructions. We examined the linguistic features used in English to ASL translations of two medication directions as produced by experienced ASL-English interpreters (n=3) and deaf bilingual physicians (n=3). Results showed the absence of a standard approach for translating medication directions into ASL; however, both groups incorporated the same linguistic devices to promote emphasis within the translation, including repetition, emphatic lexical signs, and prosodic markers, presumably to promote recall of key concepts by deaf patients. Lexical variability in the translations is discussed, as well as information gaps between the ASL and English versions of the medication instructions. The results hold implications for healthcare professionals, interpreters, and interpreter educators for building effective communication for deaf patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalTranslation and Interpreting
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Fingerprint

interpreter
medication
physician
language
instruction
linguistics
communication
Physicians
American Sign Language
Medication
Deaf
Interpreter
Language Use
Prescription
English language
comprehension
educator

Keywords

  • American Sign Language
  • Deaf
  • Emphasis
  • Healthcare
  • Interpreters
  • Modals
  • Physicians
  • Prescriptions
  • Prosody
  • Repetition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

Cite this

Conveying medication prescriptions in American Sign Language : Use of emphasis in translations by interpreters and deaf physicians. / Nicodemus, Brenda; Swabey, Laurie; Moreland, Christopher.

In: Translation and Interpreting, Vol. 6, No. 1, 01.01.2014, p. 1-22.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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