Meaning loss in English-Lubukusu medical interpretation

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Mary Nasambu Masika
David Barasa
Benard Mudogo


Language is a vital component in doctor-patient communication. The linguistic differences between languages make medical interpretation difficult. Thus, in situations where a doctor and a patient have no common language, interpretation is essential for successful exchange of meaning. Lubukusu, the language spoken by monolingual Bukusu patients and English, the language spoken by the non-native doctors, have huge linguistic differences that make it difficult for interpreters to achieve the required level of equivalence. English has unique scientific terms that have no equivalents in Lubukusu. These difficulties in interpretation may lead to loss of source language meaning and inadequate or inaccurate diagnosis that may endanger the patient’s life and the doctor’s integrity. The study was guided by the Pragmatic Model of Simultaneous interpretation. This study established that meaning loss is inevitable whenever the interpreters in medical consultations fail to find English equivalents in Lubukusu and the attempt to interpret by explicitation does not suffice. This paper informs health practitioners on ways of ensuring the best outcome of consultation sessions between non-native doctors and monolingual natives. This paper suggests ways of improving  communication between doctors who do not share a language with both their patients and fellow doctors.


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How to Cite
Masika, M. N., Barasa, D., & Mudogo, B. (2023). Meaning loss in English-Lubukusu medical interpretation. Nairobi Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 7(2), 22-34.

How to Cite

Masika, M. N., Barasa, D., & Mudogo, B. (2023). Meaning loss in English-Lubukusu medical interpretation. Nairobi Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 7(2), 22-34.


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