Healthcare interpreting for Korean immigrants in Australia: linguistic and cultural perspectives

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines communication challenges that arise in interpreter-mediated healthcare consultations for Korean patients in Australia. From the perspectives of language and culture, it explores interpreting issues reported by nine healthcare interpreters from Korean backgrounds in Australia. As for linguistic challenges, data analysis identifies three specific issues: the untranslatability of certain emotions and feelings in Korean; medical concepts specific to Korean contexts; and medical terms that are simple in English but are not straightforward to Korean patients. Cultural challenges include negative perceptions of mental illnesses among Korean people, patients’ tendency to view doctors as authorities, and a lack of cultural sensitivity in cognitive assessments for elderly patients. The findings reveal that cultural challenges are more challenging to deal with, compared with linguistic issues, due to the principle of interpreters’ role boundaries, healthcare practitioners’ lack of cultural awareness, and the general perception of interpreters as translation machines. The study highlights collaboration between interpreters and healthcare practitioners as a critical element in ensuring communication success and concludes with several key suggestions to achieve the goal.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge handbook of Korean interpreting
EditorsRiccardo Moratto, Hyang-Ok Lim
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781003349723
ISBN (Print)9781032394374, 9781032394343
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Publication series

NameRoutledge Handbooks in Translation and Interpreting Studies


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