This manual is unique in three ways it helps you become a better medical interpreter. There are many English/Spanish glossaries in print and online that suffer from what could be called a medical school syndrome. That is, terms are translated at a very high register. The non-English patient, in most cases, will not recognize the word and will either answer wrongly or ask the interpreter to explain the question
So the first way this manual will help you is by presenting a list of medical lexical items that do not come from medical schools, but from the patient’s home. The register will be lower. You will have the option to translate the patient’s Spanish at the same level, or raise it to the doctor’s register.
Concentrating on popular Mexican and Mexican American terms is the second way this manual will help you. Because the biggest immigrant group in the country hails from Mexico, the terms in this manual are mexicanismos. That is not to say, that some terms may also be used by other Latino groups, particularly Central Americans.
The third way this manual seeks to make you a better interpreter is by allowing you to practice not only with the lexical items, but with sentences that lend themselves to consecutive interpretation training.
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For the preparation of this manual I relied on primary and secondary sources over a period of many years. I did my Ph.D. work at The University of Texas at Austin, where I spent four years. During this period, however, my contact with mexicanismos was very limited, a few Mexican friends and a Mexican literature class. It was when I began 15 years of teaching at San Diego State University’s Imperial Valley Campus, on the Calexico/Mexicali border, that I became immersed in Mexican and Chicano Spanish. So much so, that when I spent a year teaching at Florida International University in Miami, the Cuban students thought I was Mexican. From California I moved to the Brownsville/Matamoros border to teach at The University of Texas at Brownsville. Both the student body and the community were 90% plus Mexican or Mexican American, as they had been in Calexico. I spent ten years there.My primary sources, then, were friends, colleagues, doctors, and nurses who worked on the border. Now in Kentucky, far from Mexico, my primary sources have been Mexican immigrants who work in restaurants, do the plumbing in my house, cut my lawn, etc. My secondary sources both in print and online include dictionaries of Mexican Spanish, articles on the lexicology of the many regions of Mexico, web pages on mexicanismos, on health and medical topics by Mexican doctors, traditional folk healers, and the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social. I have spent countless hours reading or skimming all the entries in the thickest of the thickest English/Spanish dictionaries. Finding Spanish terms, whether from primary or secondary sources, often implies not only finding the right equivalent in English, but searching for the colloquial word used by non-medical persons, by the average patient. Then pairing the colloquial term in Mexican Spanish with the matching colloquial term in English. The Englsih and Spanish sentences for consecutive interpreting practice I wrote myself. Some came from my own visits to doctors, from having accompanied my 90-year old mother to doctos in Brownsville, Texas. Other sentences were triggered by words or phrases in Mexican web sites. Yes, this rsearch has been a lot of work. It has taken many hours, many days, many months, many years. I hope that, in your hands, it will be of service and value to you and your work. Thank you for your life.
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