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South West Massive – “We’re just going to make you comfortable now” – interpreting conversations about death.
November 7 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pmFree
“We’re just going to make you comfortable now” – interpreting conversations about death.
With Paul Belmonte
7th November 2023 7.00-8.30
One of the more challenging situations in which we work is when we are interpreting
with a patient who is nearing the end of their life. As well as the emotional impact of
giving voice to the dying, the interpreter must also carefully manage their relationships
with all parties while making some difficult decisions around the language they use to
This presentation will discuss the conclusions of a cross-disciplinary discussion, where
the presenter met with a palliative care consultant and a clinical nurse specialist to
review the care given to a deaf patient and the lessons learned as we offered support at
the end of his life. It will attempt to answer questions such as:
How impartial or emotionally detached is it appropriate for the interpreter to be in these
How will they walk the tightrope between using language clear enough to be certain the
patient understands the imminence of their own death, while at the same time working
with the euphemisms used by clinical staff to make their conversations as gentle as
How will we interpret phrases like, “We’re just going to make you comfortable now”?
Paul has been practising as an interpreter since 2005. He did his initial training at
Heriot-Watt University, then worked for 15 years in a deaf organisation. Since 2020
he has worked as a specialist health interpreter for the NHS in Scotland. He also
enjoys interpreting political conferences, theatre and comedy and has mentored
interpreting students from Finland, Germany and the UK. He has presented training
events and at conferences all over Europe and completed his MSc from Queen
Margaret University in 2022. As well as interpreting and training, Paul loves
wandering around Edinburgh and playing with his Lego.