Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Speaking to your patient: medical phrasebooks

Pocket guides to help clinicians speak a foreign language to their patients are hard to find for most languages. But there are a few on offer. The trouble with speaking from phrasebooks and dictionaries, of course, is that the person who painstakingly mouths syllables then has to brace for a fluent and incomprehensible reply. So a human translator is invaluable. But I like to make an effort to speak in the language myself,* if only because my patients' laughter at my attempts makes for good medicine.

You can get medical Spanish, French, and Russian resources by Russell K. Dollinger on Amazon, and some come with audiotapes or CDs. There are other Spanish-language resources besides his, but I mention it because it's a nice series and because Dollinger is developing a gadget to allow for more inter-language communication. (Read more about his Interphraser here.)

Swahili book is available to English speakers.

The British Red Cross mails a free copy of a 36-language phrasebook for emergency conversations to British physicians. It can be ordered and downloaded online. I can't wait to print out those PDFs and give Pashto and Turkish and Amharic a try.

A book called Medical Translator contains phrases in languages commonly used in the US, including Spanish, Chinese (they don't specify which on the Amazon page), Italian, French, German, Creole (again, which creole they mean is not specified), Korean, Vietnamese, and others. Unfortunately, it seems only to be available in a German edition.

And here is the mother of all bibliographies for foreign-language medical glossaries, compiled by Jacquelyn Coughlan at SUNY Binghamton.

*I recommend Pimsleur audio programs to get you comfortable wrapping your tongue around foreign syllables.

No comments:

Post a Comment