The fuzzy boundary between the roles of interpreter and mediator in the public services in Catalonia: Analysis of interviews and interpreter-mediated interactions in the health and educational context

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Series Details Volume 18, Number 2, Pages 195–218
Publication Date 30/10/2017
ISSN 1588-2519
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In Catalonia, there is great ambiguity regarding the terms employed to define the roles, profiles and scope of the individuals who act as intermediaries in the communication process in public services. The main confusion surrounds the terms of intercultural mediator and interpreter. This article aims to contribute to the current debate on the fuzzy boundary between these roles.

We first describe the conceptions and beliefs, collected through semi-structured interviews, from healthcare staff, health service managers and interpreters about the different roles. Secondly, we analyse whether the evident confusion is also reflected in the educational context.

A widespread tendency to resort to intercultural mediators in the health and educational contexts is observed, despite the fact that they are in most cases performing the task of an interpreter. Even though it is possible for the same professional to carry out both roles, this article advocates establishing a clear differentiation between them and stresses the importance of specialized training.

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