In clinic, I rely on my consultant to translate a lot for me. It doesn’t really matter how much my vocabulary improves, it’s unlikely to do so by the time I leave here to the point that I’ll be able to understand a ten minute consultation in rapid-fire Swahili.
But that barrier doesn’t always matter.
When a patient is told that they don’t have cancer?
It doesn’t matter if I’m in Glasgow or Berlin or Tanzania. I don’t need to be fluent in their mother tongue to understand that smile or those whoops. The words we say are completely different, but we’re both speaking the same language.