AAAL 2022 Invited Colloquium

Interpreting scholars and applied linguists joining forces and crossing boundaries

Claudia V. Angelelli (she/her/ella), Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh
Discussant: Rachel Showstack (she/her/hers), Wichita State University


Colloquium abstract

Interpreting studies is a field of inquiry in its own right. Whether performed face-to-face or remotely, in monologic or dialogic mode; from the ancient Egypt times (under King Neferirka-Re) to the times of the Spanish “conquest” and the role of La Malinche, to our current times, interpreting requires us to reflect on skills and roles in brokering communication across cultures and languages; on interpreters’ communicative competence, interactional competence, as well as on their education, training, professionalization and status. In addition, interpreters, like translators and every professional, face ethical considerations and dilemmas triggered by the situated practices in the various settings where interpreting occurs. Access and right to language are at the basis of language-service provision which, as for any communicative event, occurs in diverse settings. From refugee camps, zones of conflict, during times of crises, including the COVID global pandemic, in emergency situations, or to access services (public or private) such as those related to education, healthcare, or legal matters to a Hall in the United Nations or the European Commission interpreting is an interdisciplinary endeavor.

In this colloquium we explore micro and macro issues through interdisciplinary lenses as examples of joining forces, crossing boundaries and furthering our learning. We also reflect, and invite the audience to reflect with us, on why interest in Interpretation continues to dwindle among applied linguistics, as evinced for example in the small presence of Translation and Interpreting at the AAAL program each year. We start by presenting four papers followed by our Discussant’s remarks and we then open the floor to the audience for a fruitful and productive discussion. Our goal is to encourage AAAL members to engage with the vibrancy of real-world and theoretical language-related issues that this discipline offers and to inspire Interpreting Scholars and Applied Linguists to collaborate more in the future.


On “dyadic sequences” again: Some thoughts on a not-easily-definable category in women’s healthcare interpreting

Laura Gavioli (she/her/ella)
Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia


Interpreters’ engagement in monolingual sequences inside interpreter-mediated, bilingual talk, has raised concern in the literature on dialogue interpreting because these sequences: a. cause memory burden and are thus not easy to handle; b. exclude (temporarily) one of the participants. In healthcare interpreted interaction, dyadic sequences seem however to serve a variety of functions both related to the provision of care (e.g. clarifying medical procedures, Angelelli 2012) or to attention for the patients’ welfare (e.g. accommodating occasional small talk, when the situation requires it; Penn & Watermeyer 2012).

The category of “dyadic sequences” is in fact not univocal, going from short clarification sequences, to narratives or explanations, to more active types of interpreter-initiatives, like giving directions, reassuring, recommending. In my presentation, I would like to focus on a single type of dyadic sequence, one I will call “paired dyadic”. This is when the interpreter listens to a clinician’s (lengthy) contribution and then renders it to the patient. Such paired dyadics involve interpreter engagement first with the clinician and then with the patient; interpreters, however, participate as “listeners” in the first sequence and as “reporters” in the second. This organization is then not so different from what is known, in interpreting studies, as “consecutive interpreting” (a short speech + rendition). What is different, crucially, is not the rendition model, but the type of source, which in the case of dialogue interpreting is extempore, spontaneous talk.

On the basis of evidence from my corpus of healthcare interpreter-mediated interactions (400 conversations in women’s health), I would argue that: a. paired dyadics are functional to achieve health care in mediated interaction; b. paired dyadics need “to come in pairs” (when one pair-part is missing, communication is at risk); c. interpreters need to be trained at handling “consecutive” types of rendition in spontaneous talk.



Angelelli, Claudia (2012) “Challenges in interpreters’ coordination of the construction of pain’” in Coordinating participation in dialogue interpreting, Claudio Baraldi and Laura Gavioli (eds). Amsterdam, Benjamins: 251-268.

Penn, Claire and Jennifer Watermeyer (2012) “When asides become central: Small talk and big talk in interpreted health interactions”, Patient Education and Counseling 88: 391–398.




Translating risks to multilingual communities: A survey of language mediators in crisis and emergency risk communication in Yemen, Nigeria, and Wuhan

Federico M. Federici (he/him)
University College London, UK


Crisis and emergency risk communication (CERC) depends on language to eliminate, reduce, or mitigate risks (Federici & O’Brien 2020). Problems delivering information in appropriate languages and accessible formats to communicate risks among multilingual communities expose people to additional risks (WHO 2017). The impact of other social inequalities is heightened as language (including language variation) is a social determinant of health (Showstack et al. 2019). Interestingly, the cultural dimensions of risk perception are better understood than the linguistic ones (Appleby-Arnold et al. 2018; Cannon 2008; Cornia, Dressel, & Pfeil 2014; Douglas & Wildavsky1983; Federici 2020; O’Brien &Federici 2019).


This paper analyses data collected through the EU funded INTERACT Network (International Network in Crisis Communication, Grant no. 734211, 2017-2020) questionnaire on bilingual individuals, working as translators, interpreters, ‘language mediators’ from/into English between November 2017 and February 2022. The participants have worked during crises such as the Yemen conflict, internal displacement in Nigeria, and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan. The questionnaire seeks to answer questions such as: Who are the language mediators involved in CERC during unpredictable emergencies? Do they have any professional expertise, or are they only volunteers who speak two languages? If they are professionals, do they have access to suitable training? 



This paper contextualizes the findings against the backdrop of research into policies and practices around CERC in multilingual settings (Federici et al. 2019). As the lingua franca of science, English, fails to convince, persuade, or provide messages that reach all non-speakers of English. Thus, multilingual communities are exposed to heightened risks (Field 2017). CERC policies show gaps in multilingual communication strategies. The results show that the complexity of providing information in less commonly used languages or rare language combinations for which no training of translators, interpreters, or language mediators exist remains an unresolved issue.


Appleby-Arnold, S., Brockdorff, N., Jakovljev, I., & Zdravković, S. 2018. Applying cultural values to encourage disaster preparedness: Lessons from a low-hazard country. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 31, 37-44. doi: 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2018.04.015.

Cadwell, P., & O’Brien, S. 2016. Language, Culture, and Translation in Disaster ICT: An Ecosystemic Model of Understanding. Perspectives. Studies in Translatology, 24, 557-75.

Cannon, T. 2008. Vulnerability, "innocent" disasters and the imperative of cultural understanding. Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, 17(3), 350-357. doi:10.1108/09653560810887275.

Cornia, A., Dressel, K., & Pfeil, P. 2014. Risk cultures and dominant approaches towards disasters in seven European countries. Journal of Risk Research, 2, 1-17.

Clyne, M. 2008. The monolingual mindset as an impediment to the development of plurilingual potential in Australia. Sociolinguistic Studies, 2(3), 347-366.

Douglas, M., & Wildavsky, A. 1983. Risk and culture: An essay on the selection of technological and environmental dangers. Berkeley, CA and London: University of California Press.

Federici, F. M., O'Brien, S., Cadwelll, P., Marlowe, J., Gerber, B., & Davis, O. 2019. INTERACT Recommendations on Policies. Dublin and London: The INTERACT Network. Retrieved on June 1, 2021, from

Federici, F. M. 2020. Managing Vulnerability during Cascading Disasters: Language Access Services. In B. E. Gerber (Ed.), Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazard Science. New York, NY; Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199389407.013.342

Federici, F. M., & O'Brien, S. 2020. Cascading crises: translation as a risk reduction. In F. M. Federici & S. O'Brien (Eds.), Translation in Cascading Crises (pp. 1-22). Abingdon and New York, NY: Routledge.

Field, J. 2017. What is appropriate and relevant assistance after a disaster? Accounting for culture(s) in the response to Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 22, 335-344

Gaillard, J. C. 2019. Disaster studies inside out. Disasters, 43(1), S7-S17.

O’Brien, S. 2016. Training Translators for Crisis Communication. In F. M.  Federici (ed.), Mediating Emergencies and Conflicts (pp. 85-111). Basingstoke and New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

O'Brien, S., & Federici, F. M. 2019. Crisis Translation: Considering Language Needs in Multilingual Disaster Settings. Disaster Prevention and Management, 29. doi:10.1108/DPM-11-2018-0373.

Showstack, R., Santos, M. G., Feuerherm, E., Jacobson, H., & Martínez, G. (2019). Language as a social determinant of health: An applied linguistics perspective on health equity. American Association for Applied Linguistics Newsletter. Retrieved on June 15, 2021, from

WHO. 2017. Communicating Risk in Public Health Emergencies. A WHO Guideline for Emergency Risk Communication (ERC) policy and practice. Geneva and New York, NY: World Health Organization. Retrieved on June 15, 2021, from



Researching language access as a social determinant of health: Interpreting, translation, and applied linguistics as tacit research companions

Christopher D. Mellinger
University of North Carolina at Charlotte


As the largest minority population in the United States, the Latinx community is a multicultural, multilingual group that has been the focus of an ever-increasing body of research dedicated to healthcare disparities and the identification of factors that underlie these inequities. While socioeconomic factors, lifestyle behaviors, and access to preventative healthcare services regularly figure into these conversations, other aspects related to language and language access require greater attention and their associated impacts. Previous scholarship that has addressed accessing information in someone’s preferred language, mistakes or errors that have undesirable consequences, and occasionally, the presence or absence of translation and interpreting services in healthcare settings (e.g., Flores 2005, 2006; Flores et al. 2003).


While much of this previous work addresses cross-language mediation in some form, the extant scholarship is often tacit on the complex nature of translation and interpreting, which ought to recognize, among other aspects, the agency of translators and interpreters, the role of interaction and negotiated meaning making, and complex decision-making processes involve in their work. More recent scholarship adopts a post-positivistic approach that eschews the view that translation and interpreting rely on a static, underlying meaning to recognize translation and interpreting as complex tasks in a broad range of settings. For instance, language access and health literacy have been argued to be a social determinant of health, with translation and interpreting fit into broader discussions related to healthcare disparities (Mellinger 2022). In addition, scholars have identified the disconnect between the availability of professional translation and interpreting services with their use, challenging current practices in healthcare in order to redress healthcare disparities related to language, both in the U.S. and elsewhere (Angelelli 2018; Showstack et al. 2019).


Drawing on examples from conversation analysis, field observations, and corpus-based research, this paper examines how the intersection of applied linguistics research with translation and interpreting studies provides a unique lens to examine language access as a social determinant of health. In particular, the paper argues that the complex interplay of broader questions related to language policy, healthcare, and linguistic mediation requires explicit recognition of the role of interpreting and translation as well as a multi-pronged approach to research and understand these phenomena. Rather than these questions being tackled in silos, an integrated approach is likely to bear fruit beyond typical disciplinary distinctions.



Angelelli, Claudia V. 2018. “Cross-border healthcare for all EU residents? Linguistic access in the European Union.” Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice 11(2): 113–134.

Flores, Glenn. 2005. “The Impact of Medical Interpreter Services on Quality of Health Care: A Systematic Review.” Medical Care Research and Review 62(3): 255–99.

Flores, Glenn. 2006. “Language Barriers to Health Care in the United States.” New England Journal of Medicine355(3): 229–30.

Flores, Glenn, et al. 2003. “Errors in Medical Interpretation and Their Potential Clinical Consequences in Pediatric Encounters.” Pediatrics 111: 6–14.

Mellinger, Christopher D. 2022, forthcoming. “Healthcare in the U.S. Latinx Community: Challenges, Disparities, and Opportunities.” In Healthcare in Latin America: History, Society, Culture, ed. by David Dalton and Doug Weatherford. University of Florida Press.

Showstack, Rachel E., Kelly Guzman, Amy K. Chesser, and Nikki KeeneWoods. 2019. “Improving Latino Health Equity Through Spanish Language Interpreter Advocacy in Kansas.” Hispanic Health Care International (171): 18–22.


A Freirean approach to empowering three vulnerable communities in Brazil through language mediation: Project EBIC

Claudia V. Angelelli (she/her/ella)
Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK


This presentation reports on an interdisciplinary project, funded by United Kingdom Research and Innovation AHRC/GCRF, bringing together Interpreting, Translation, Language, Culture, Intercultural Communication, Development Studies, Gamification and Healthcare. It focuses on the linguistic resources deployed by the team in Portuguese, English and Spanish to work with 3 vulnerable groups (homeless, Favelas [shanty town] dwellers and garbage pickers) in deprived metropolitan areas in Goiânia, capital of the state of Goiás, Brazil.


Communicating effectively, understanding and being understood, prioritizing essential information, as well as differentiating between reliable and fake news, require cognitive and social skills learnt through socialization and education. While these skills are not equal across social sectors (Freire 1992:71), they are essential. We all depend on them to access, analyse and categorize information to make informed decisions which are particularly important, when living through the current COVID-19 pandemic in an impoverished community. Grounded in Paolo Freire’s philosophy of education and framed by theories from sociolinguistics, access to language and information and family literacy practices (Rogers 2003), we study participants' access to information, negotiation of trust, communication and decision-making in relation to COVID-19. Based on the knowledge gained from participatory action research (on site and remotely), we designed a communicative strategy, critical thinking workshops and an educational (serious) game to raise awareness on the infodemic. Based on data from participatory observations, interviews, workshops and game sessions, this presentation offers a context to reflect about the relationship between Applied Linguistics and Translation and Interpreting Studies.



Angelelli, C. (2004). Medical Interpreting and Cross-cultural Communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Briso, C. & Phillips T. (2020). Brazil gangs impose strict curfews to slow coronavirus spread. The Guardian, (Last accessed 24 May 2020).

de Morais, J. I., Abonizio, H. Q., Tavares, G. M., da Fonseca, A. A., & Barbon Jr, S. (2019). Deciding among Fake, Satirical, Objective and Legitimate news: A multi-label classification system. In Proceedings of the XV Brazilian Symposium on Information Systems, 1-8.

Fairclough, N. (1995). Critical Discourse Analysis. The critical study of language. Essex: Longman.

Freire, P. (1992). Pedagogy of Hope. London/New York: Continuum.

IBGE (2019). Síntese de Indicadores Sociais. Sao Paulo, Brazil, 1-134.

Nemer, D. (2016) Online Favela: The Use of Social Media by the Marginalized in Brazil, Information Technology for Development, 22(3), 364-379

Neto, M. et al. (2020). Fake news no cenário da pandemia de Covid-19. Cogitare enfermagem, 25, e72627. Ricard, J., Medeiros, J., (2020). Using misinformation as a political weapon: COVID-19 and Bolsonaro in

Brazil, The Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Misinformation Review, 1(2), 1-6.

Rogers, R. (2003). A Critical Discourse Analysis of Family Literacy Practices- Power In and Out of Print. New Jersey: Lawfrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Sastre, A. & de Carvalho, J. (2018). User behavior in the fake news diffusion process: reflections on the communication process on digital platforms. Comun. & Inf., Goiânia, GO, 21(3), 91-106.

Van Dijk, T. (2003). Elite Discourse and Racism. Sage Publications.

Van Dijk. T. (2009). Racism and Discourse in Latin America. Plymouth, UK: Lexington Books.

Ventura, D. et al. (2020). Challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic: for a Brazilian research agenda in global health and sustainability. Cadernos de Saúde Pública, 36(4), 1-5.


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