LINGUIST List 31.2971

Thu Oct 01 2020

Confs: Pragmatics/Switzerland

Editor for this issue: Lauren Perkins <>

Date: 26-Sep-2020
From: Leona Van Vaerenbergh <>
Subject: How can interpreting in mental health settings contribute to inclusion? Accuracy, neutrality, and flexibility as important professional standards
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How can interpreting in mental health settings contribute to inclusion? Accuracy, neutrality, and flexibility as important professional standards

Date: 27-Jun-2021 - 02-Jul-2021
Location: Winterthur, Switzerland
Contact: Leona Van Vaerenbergh
Contact Email: < click here to access email >
Meeting URL:

Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics

Meeting Description:

Organisers: Leona Van Vaerenbergh (University of Antwerp), Betty Goguikian Ratcliff (University of Geneva), Yvan Leanza (Université de Laval)

Within the framework of the conference topic “The pragmatics of inclusion”, this panel aims to draw attention to the variety of settings within the area of mental health care and to investigate how interpreting and interpreters can contribute to the societal and psychomedical inclusion of patients with linguistic and cultural barriers leading to a sense of discrimination and exclusion.

Up to now little research has been conducted on interpreting specifically in the area of mental health (see e.g. Blumenthal 2016: 22-23; Tribe & Raval 2002). Nevertheless, mental health care is a field in its own right with a large variety of settings. This variety is created by the nature and severity of the disorders, the type of consultations: diagnostic consultations by means of diagnostic and psychometric tests, psychological assessment, counseling, etc., and by the participants in the consultation: the specialism of the health care provider (psychiatrist, psychologist, psychotherapist) and the age of the patient (child, adolescent, adult, elderly people) (Leanza 2015). Furthermore, the setting is determined by the institutional context: the process of a consultation in the hospital may differ from that in a private practice (Goguikian, Pereira & Fierro 2018).

For the interpreter, this variety involves a high degree of variability of contexts, situations, and interactions, and a clear definition of role frontiers with health care providers is needed. In order to contribute to inclusion, a highly professional attitude of the interpreter is required. Three important standards request particular attention and further research, i.e. accuracy, neutrality, and flexibility. The required accuracy relates to different levels: the linguistic interpretation, the cultural interpretation, and last but not least the interpretation of nonverbal communication features (e.g. Mudarikiri 2002: 185-186; Blumenthal 2016: 114 ff; Van Vaerenbergh 2020: 312-314). Neutrality is often misunderstood and confused with disengagement and detachment (Goguikian Ratcliff, 2010). Therefore, different authors (René de Cotret, Ošlejšková, Tamouro & Leanza 2017; Leanza 2017) suggest to use the term ‘multipartiality’. Flexibility is an important standard when interpreting is considered as a practice profession. Practice profession means that “technical skills are always applied in a dynamic, interactive social context” (Dean & Pollard 2011: 156). Flexibility is the competence of the interpreter to tailor his/her strategy in a professional way to varying contexts.
The aim of this panel is to discuss results of different research approaches, i.e. theoretical studies, survey studies and field research and to represent different disciplines with their own approach to accuracy, neutrality, and flexibility, but also to the role, the possibilities and difficulties of interpreting in the area of mental health care.

Call for Papers:

We invite researchers of different disciplines to submit paper propositions on topics such as:
- Professionalism of the interpreter and ethics
- Interpreting and transcultural mental health
- Interpreting and lingua franca in mental health settings
- Interpreting nonverbal communication in mental health care
- Consecutive and simultaneous interpreting in mental health settings
- Interpreting in the context of diagnostic and psychometric testing
- The role of the institutional context
- Training of interpreters for mental health settings

Prior to submitting your abstract on the conference website (, you need to email it to the panel organiser ( for pre-approval. Deadline: 18 October. Notification of approval: 22 October.

Page Updated: 01-Oct-2020