Letteren en Wijsbegeerte

Departement Toegepaste taalkunde


Bridging language barriers in psychiatry: The effect of lingua franca and interpreters on communication - Sofie Van de Geuchte (13/07/2021)

Sofie Van de Geuchte

  • 13/07/2021: doctoraatsverdediging
  • Promotoren: Leona Van Vaerenbergh, Jef Verschueren en Greet Vanaerschot


Language barriers in psychiatry can be problematic, since communication is an essential part of psychiatry: it is used during anamnesis, diagnosis and treatment. There are several options to bridge language gaps. Doctors can adjust their language to the language level of the patients, they can try to find a common foreign language (lingua franca), a friend or family member can accompany the patient and act as informal interpreter, or a professional interpreter can be engaged. The above types of language mediation are discussed in this PhD study, but the main focus is on professional interpreters and the use of a lingua franca.

This study explores the effect of language mediation on communication in a psychiatric consultation. In this way, two research gaps and shortcomings that were revealed in the literature review are addressed: firstly, how different types of language mediation influence communication and secondly, the effect of a lingua franca. To achieve this aim, an exploratory case study design was chosen. The primary data set contains audio and video recordings of psychiatric consultations. A total of 11 consultations were selected, transcribed and thoroughly analyzed, both qualitatively and quantitatively. The analysis focused on turns and turn duration, question- and answer sequences and thematic development.

The analysis showed that the type of language mediation certainly influences communication. In general, both professional interpreters and the use of a lingua franca are good ways of bridging the language gap, but in the lingua franca consultations, the language proficiency of both interlocutors is decisive, while in the interpreter-mediated consultations the many shifts in translation are an obstacle. This PhD thesis provides an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of each type of language mediation. This may allow mental healthcare workers to make a more informed decision and to be more aware of the possibilities and consequences of the language mediation chosen. Some recommendations for psychiatrists who work with interpreters, for interpreter services and for doctor training are also formulated.

The main strength of the study is that real-life data was used and a realistic picture is sketched of the problems that occur in language-mediated psychiatric consultations. The main limitation is closely related to the very fact that real-life data is used: every consultation is different, and it is difficult to control the research parameters. This makes a generalization of the results impossible, but some clear trends were revealed, which offer various possibilities for further research.

Dialetto e «regressione»: Andrea Zanzotto e Pier Paolo Pasolini a confronto - Adriana Cappelluzzo (08/05/2020)

Adriana Cappelluzzo 

  • 8 mei 2020
  • Promotoren: Antonio Saccone en Rosario Gennaro
  • Dubbeldoctoraat UAntwerpen - Università degli studi di Napoli "Federico II" (Italië)


This research work focuses on the poetic production in dialect of Andrea Zanzotto and Pier Paolo Pasolini from the 1940s to the 1970s. The first part of this research deals with the question of the language divided between dialect and an instance of regression, in it we propose the analysis of two collections: La meglio gioventù of Pasolini and La Beltà of Zanzotto. Both sillogi manifest an instance of regression understood as a return to a primordial linguistic perspective, the language of Zanzotto's children, and as a path to re-appropriate linguistic but also social realities, Pasolini's Casarsa dialect.

The second part reflects on the notion of "corporeity". The bodies of young people, still uncorrupted in the Trilogy of Life (1971-1974), appear contaminated by neo-capitalist homologation. All that remains is to fall back into a "gloomy enthusiasm", La nuova gioventù (1975). Zanzotto, on the other hand, discovers with Filò the maternal dictation, the dialect of Soligo, and does so through Fellini's cinema. Here is a geological, telluric, almost visceral perspective on Zanzotti's pages. It is the heavy lagoon body that breaks into the verses of the long filò.

The third part concerns the relationship between Pasolini, Zanzotto and the culture of their time and with the authors tradition. This chapter highlights the points of contact between the two authors but also the critical places that make the different poetic experiences peculiar. It also addresses the pedagogical necessity felt by the two authors as the foundation of their poetic discourse. In the last instance, a close comparison between the two poets is proposed with respect to the reciprocal interpretative and epistolary relationships.

In the final appendix the poetry of the two authors is made to act in relation to the landscape. The village of Casarsa, for Pasolini, and Pieve di Soligo, for Zanzotto, represent that dialectal eden that is slowly disappearing. If Zanzotto reflects on the geographical dimension from a poetic and ecological perspective; Pasolini, through his fierce accusation to the neo-capitalist world, captures, in his last appearance, a universe, the peasant one, which is inexorably disappearing.

Remote Interpreting in healthcare settings: A comparative study on the influence of telephone and video link use on the quality of interpreter-mediated communication - Esther de Boe (07/05/2020)

Esther de Boe

  • 7 mei 2020
  • Promotoren: Sabine Braun, Aline Remael en Jim Ureel


In interpreting, the introduction of technologies enabling Remote Interpreting (RI) has profoundly changed the ways in which interpreting services are being delivered. Whereas interpreting was traditionally carried out face-to-face (F2F), contemporary communication channels allow for distance interpreting by means of telephone (Telephone Interpreting, TI) or video link (Video Interpreting, VI). At the same time, in response to growing immigration flows, RI methods are increasingly being welcomed to enable, for example, access to healthcare.

Whereas clinical research on RI has reported predominantly positive results concerning its use, empirical research in other settings, such as legal contexts, has demonstrated that RI can affect the quality of interpreter-mediated communication. However, so far, in interpreting studies, no qualitative comparison of the three different interpreting methods (F2F, TI and VI) has been carried out.

This doctoral thesis aimed at bridging this gap by investigating the effects of the use of RI on the quality of interpreter-mediated healthcare communication. Central to the research design were three series of simulated interpreter-mediated doctor–patient encounters, implemented by three different interpreters, a gynaecologist and a simulation patient. In each series, three different interpreting methods were used: F2F, TI and VI. The sessions were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively to examine the frequency of miscommunication and the role of technological factors in the occurrence and repair of miscommunication. The results of these analyses were triangulated by the findings from the participants’ quality assessment, collected by means of thirty post-simulation interviews.

The results of the quantitative analyses across the three series of simulations showed large variances in the frequency of miscommunication, which seemed to be closely linked to average turn duration. Therefore, the impact of the remote conditions was primarily indirect. Nevertheless, the qualitative analyses indicated that there were salient differences in the ways in which miscommunication occurred and interaction was managed between the RI methods and the F2F method. The impact of technological factors such as sound quality issues or loss of internet connection on communication quality was largely determined by the competences of the individual interpreters, as well as by the interactional behaviour displayed by the doctor and the patient. These insights in the challenges of the use of RI methods are highly relevant for all users to anticipate and overcome potential communication problems, as well as for interpreter trainers and other stakeholders involved, such as dedicated RI platforms and healthcare policy makers.


Remote interpreting, Telephone interpreting, Video interpreting, Community interpreting, Healthcare interpreting

Shifting meaning potential in interpreter-mediated formal interaction: The case of the Chinese premier's press conference in China - Rui Zhang (19/02/2020)

Rui Zhang

  • 19 februari 2020
  • Promotoren: Ching Lin Pang en Jef Verschueren


China has made an amazing and spectacular advancement in its economy in the past four decades since its reform and opening up in 1978. The economic success helps bring China back into the international politics and promote its re-engagement with the rest of the world. Now ‘to tell China's stories well, to make the voice of China heard, and present a true, multi-dimensional, and panoramic view of China to the world’ (President Xi Jinping) is the overarching communicative goal of China’s public political discourse. The Chinese Premier is the highest-level political leader who has an annual face-to-face meeting with the international press. His interpreted live-televised Chinese Premier’s Press Conference (the CPPC) in the form of Q&A offers a channel to make the top policy maker’s voice heard directly by the international audience. It is of great significance to have an in-depth investigation into how China’s institutional voice represented by the premier is conveyed via the consecutive interpreter to the world. 

This data-driven empirical case study of the 2017 interpreted CPPC, based on the transcription of the video, takes a linguistic pragmatic perspective and conceives of it as an instance of language use in its formal political setting. The indeterminacy of meaning and interadaptability of meaning negotiation entails that meaning exists as meaning potential, viz. a range of possible meanings (Verschueren 2018). This brings thorny problems as well as room for manipulation to interpreters for whom the source and target languages provide different affordances (Verschueren 2018). As political discourse in the media, the data feature the combination of institutional discourse, media discourse and mediated political discourse. The interpreter, different from her counterparts in similar European contexts, is government-affiliated and a ‘civil-servant interpreter-translator’ (Setton 2001). In the face of a web of differentiated international audiences composed mainly of on-site journalists and an off-site general public, subject to institutional goals and procedures, deprived of the possibility of follow-up questions and feedback, the interpreter is greatly contextually constrained. My investigation finds ample linguistic traces at various levels that eventually point to strong tendencies that reveal the interpreter’s intervention and agency: in terms of discourse coherence, image construction (both China’s institutional image and the premier’s personal image), information priority and cultural mediation.

Audio-description in Dutch: a corpus-based study into the linguistic features of a new, multimodal text type - Nina Reviers (05/02/2018)

Nina Reviers

  • 5 februari 2018
  • Promotoren: Prof. Aline Remael en Prof. Reinhild Vandekerckhove


This PhD project is a corpus-based study of the linguistic features of a new, multimodal text type within Audiovisual Translation (AVT): Audio-description (AD) for the blind and visually impaired. The aim of this interdisciplinary project is to describe the lexico-grammatical features of AD-scripts and examine the role they play in the specific communicative function of the text. The object is to explore one of the key-issues in AD research: How are images put into words and what are the implications for the language use in AD? A recent pilot study confirmed the hypothesis that the language of AD contains distinctive grammatical (morpho-syntactic) and lexical features and that these specific patterns can be identified by corpus analysis. Firstly, the current project developed an extensive and varied text corpus of AD scripts of Dutch audio-described films and series. Secondly, this text corpus provided the basis for quantitative linguistic research, aiming to identify the prominent lexico-grammatical features of the text type. Thirdly, the quantitative analysis was combined with a qualitative analysis of the (communicative) function of these features.

Finally, special attention was paid to the multimodal nature of the text type, since the AD-script only makes sense in combination with the dialogues, music and sound effects of the original film or series with which it forms a coherent whole. Therefore, a multimodal analysis of a selection of texts was conducted. This multimodal analysis explored the unique interaction between the language of AD and the other channels of the audiovisual text, more specifically the sound effects.

Ultimately, the project’s ambition was to conduct an extensive linguistic audience design oriented analysis of the AD-discourse. This allowed us to identify the features that characterise the AD text type, clarify how these linguistic and stylistic features are used to ensure maximum communicative efficiency, and how these features are related to the function and multimodal character of AD.

The project presented here is a pioneer in the field: AD has become an international research topic recently but for Flanders and the Netherlands no study of AD is available yet. In addition, its results can offer the basis for future application-oriented studies and can support the development of a local AD tradition in Flanders that meets international quality standards.

Translating documentaries. Does the integration of a bilingual glossary of domain-specific terminology into the translation process reduce the translators' workload? - Sabien Hanoulle (05/07/2017)

Sabien Hanoulle

  • 5 juli 2017
  • Promotoren: Prof. Véronique Hoste en Prof. Aline Remael
  • Dubbeldoctoraat UAntwerpen - UGent


The thesis under study is a contribution to the research in translation of documentaries and more particularly, the translation of domain-specific terminology, one of the challenges in this field. Carrying out translation experiments, this dissertation investigates whether or not bilingual glossaries, manually or automatically extracted, reduce the workload of documentary translators.

The research consists of three major parts, all thoroughly analysed against the state-of-the-art studies. The first part concerns the analysis and the selection of the corpus. The Flemish public broadcaster VRT made a corpus of English documentaries and their Dutch translation available. In a preparatory stage, an in-depth analysis of the text type showed the corpus contained domain-specific terminology, especially in documentaries meant for informative purposes. As a consequence, an experimental corpus of three informative documentaries was selected for the translation experiments.

The second part focuses on manual and automatic terminology extraction, the underlying software of automatic term extractors and the testing of three existing systems. In order to understand the test results, two key features for terminology (termhood and unithood) were discussed and an overview of the different strategies term extractors use was provided. Annotators manually labelled all the terminology of the experimental corpus, drawing up in this way a gold standard as an objective means for testing the automatic systems. The accuracy of these systems was expressed in terms of precision and recall. The best performing system was selected to extract the glossaries for the experiments.

The third part deals with the translation experiments. In a pilot project, Master’s students in translation translated three texts first without, then with the manual or the automatic glossaries at their disposal, while a keystroke logging software registered the process. For the main experiment with professional translators, the experimental set-up was slightly modified, introducing some remedial measures learned from the pilot project. Statistical analyses of the total process time and the pause time before each term were elaborated.

The results revealed that in most working conditions the candidates worked significantly faster when translating with a glossary and that they made less terminological errors. Furthermore, the dissertation proposes an ecologically valid experimental design, tested and remediated in the ongoing research. Yet, there was room for improvement for the automatically extracted glossaries due to the small corpus and the free translation style, typical for translating documentaries.

The Pragmatics of Translation in Journalism: an Investigation into the Nature of Translation in the News Room - Maarten Charles J. Franck (03/07/2017)

Maarten Charles J. Franck

  • 3 juli 2017
  • Promotoren: Prof. dr Jef Verschueren en Prof. dr Leona Van Vaerenbergh


This book explores the nature of translation in the newsroom from a linguistic pragmatic perspective. I have defined pragmatics as the study of communicative dynamics. Because of how it has been institutionalized, it is mainly a “general functional perspective on (any aspect of) language” (Verschueren 1999, p. 11). Looking at translation from said perspective, means that it can be regarded as a form of interpretive language use which is always dependent of context. It is an instance of recontextualization, in which a source text (ST) is manipulated to become a target text (TT). It can be interlingual or intralingual, depending on whether translation is done between two different general languages or within one general language. And while a translation is never completely faithful or liberal, it is always situated on the cline of unremitting variability between these two extremes. Translation is also one of many tasks associated with the profession of journalism. The main commodity of this profession is information. The information journalists provide can be true, but it is not always possible to say whether it is or is not, because most often, it is the neutral rendition of what other people have said.

With these basic notions in mind I set out to answer four main questions: (i) Which variables influence the way journalists translate?; (ii) What formal shifts in meaning occur when journalists translate?; (iii) What functional shifts in meaning occur when journalists translate?; (iv) Are metamessages strengthened throughout subsequent translations? To answer these questions I examined translations made by journalists working for Belgium’s main national press agency (Belga), news sites (www.demorgen.be, www.destandaard.be, www.hln.be and www.nieuwsblad.be), and newspapers (De Morgen, De Standaard, Het Laatste Nieuws and Het Nieuwsblad). The only one of these media that did not exclusively translate into Dutch was press agency Belga, which also translates news into French. Belga also often fulfilled an intermediary role, translating international media reports (e.g. Agence France-Press, Deutsche Presse Agentur) into French and Dutch before they were picked up by Belgian media. It also provided original coverage which was often picked up by the different media.

To account for differences in topic I exemplified two distinct cases in this book: (i) translations of news reports on the 2011 elections in the DR Congo; (ii) translations of news reports on the run-up to the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

Fictie en vertaling door fans op het internet: een studie over herschrijven, samenwerken en delen van fanfictie - Fabíola do Socorro Figueiredo dos Reis (23/02/2017)

Fabíola do Socorro Figueiredo dos Reis

  • 23 februari 2017
  • Promotoren: Prof. Christiane Stallaert en Prof. Izabela Guimarães Guerra Leal


This dissertation studies the translation process of fanfiction (fiction written by fans), one of the many activities practiced by fans in virtual communities. The study is based on a corpus of English texts that have been translated online into Portuguese. The study shows that, on the one hand, the translation process bears similarities to traditional translation practices and strategies while, on the other hand, the actors move flexibly between the different roles, adapting themselves easily to the various possibilities that a virtual environment offers. Characteristic of fanfiction in translation is that it is a dual process of 'rewriting': on the one hand, the creation by fans (readers / writers) of new stories based on existing characters and plots, and on the other hand, the translation itself, which can be described as a process of "rewriting". According to the definition of Lefevere (1995), all translation is a form of rewriting of an 'original', a process related to power relations embedded in a particular social context.

After introducing the concept of translation as ‘rewriting’,  the specific aspects of the translation of fanfiction as a process of 'rewriting' are analyzed, such as the temporal aspect (the ‘pace’ of translation) and the relationship between author / reader of fanfiction and his / her translator(s). The analysis makes clear that in the digital age, the relationship between entities such as author, reader and translator has become extremely complex and that these entities can no longer be considered or observed as fixed and distinct realities. The roles and functions that are observed are interchangeable and this plasticity is accentuated by the use of technology (machines), which transforms the actors into 'cyborgs', able to simultaneously assume the role of author, reader and translator. Traditional dichotomies such as ‘writer’ versus ‘reader’, ‘reader’ versus ‘translator’, or ‘translator’ versus ‘reviewer’ have changed substantially in cyberspace. The cyborg-translator is both part of the real world and the parallel world of the Internet; from behind of his / her machine he/she participates in various fields, assumes distinct roles and interacts with readers and writers.

The generalized access to the Internet raises questions regarding the future of the practice of writing, reading and translating. Is it possible that the boundaries between writer, reader and translator will be erased in the digital age and that the different roles can be adopted simultaneously by the different actors? From the perspective of the humanities, the digital era requires us to reconsider traditional categories of division of labor separated from each other by sharp boundaries. The rise of the internet has created new genres and makes participation in the cyberspace possible to what was once limited to only part of the population.

In Liquid Modernity (2001), Bauman states that patterns of human interaction and dependency, as compared to previous generations, have become malleable in an unimaginable way, but also that their shape - just like all liquids - does not remain stable. By analogy with this observation, we can say that some traditional dichotomies that once helped us to understand and analyze our society, are evaporating or beginning to merge one into another. Bauman’s metaphor can be applied to the study of literature and translation in the digital age, characterized by actors moving in different directions. By analogy with the notion of fluidity, this thesis based on a corpus of translations of fanfiction studies the changed roles of reader, author, and translator in the digital age and its significance for the traditional dichotomies of literature and translation studies.