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Medical Dramas & Medical Interpreting— Big White Duel

Updated: Jul 16, 2022

Big White Duel, produced by TVB in 2019, is a Hong Kong television medical drama. The plot revolves around a team of elite medical practitioners at the fictional Hong Kong's top public hospital, Marshall Paxton Hospital, and the power struggle lurking beneath the new health care plan. While appreciating the acts and messages that get across us, we can have a glance of how this can be related to medical interpreting.

Since Hong Kong had once been a colony and dependent territory of Great Britain, a majority of people of that era grew up learning English and Chinese in the local bilingual education system. Many professionals even achieve proficiency in bilingualism. With these social and cultural features setting as the backdrop of the Big White Duel, medical practitioner usually talk with a mixed-code of Chinese and English in A&E and Operation scenes. Therefore, interpreters might find it easier to provide quality medical interpreting services since technical or medical terms have already been uttered by the practitioners. Such unique language feature can be found in examples like, ‘畀個scalpel我 (give me a scalpel)’, ‘係嚴重嘅Hypothermia,我要ECMO (Such serious hyphtermia!I need to see the ECMO) ’ and ‘有翻pulse喇 (pulse is back)’.

Interpreters play a pivotal role in handling conflicts, especially when the majority of patients depend entirely on interpreters as their only communication agencies. Conflicts can be settled by identifying the gravity and attributes of the cases, in parallel with defining the relationship between the interpreter and client. In Big White Duel, for instance, a major conflict arose (between doctors and patients) from the temporal blockade of A&E because of a suspected MERS case. Patients who were trapped at the A&E were filled with rage as they thought that their lives were put at risk. Interpreters in such circumstances should adopt corresponding communicative strategies and be aware of the contextual factors.

Confidentiality of patients’ condition and privacy protection are also crucial for medical interpreters. In Big White Duel, a singer was suffering from the sequela of breast augmentation and a surgery had to be done to save her life. However, she threatened the doctor to cover up the truth and lie to reporters that she was only suffering from pneumonia. In this case, if there was an interpreter, he or she should not expose anything about the patient to anyone, no matter what decision the doctor has made.


Breast augmentation 隆胸手術

Drug resistance 抗藥性

ECMO 體外膜氧合

Erlotinib 得舒緩

Hypothermia 低溫症

Lung adenocarcinoma 腺細胞肺癌

Pneumonia 肺炎

Pulse 脈搏

Scalpel 手術刀

Sequela 後遺症

Prepared by:

Chan Chak Hong, Cyrus

Chin Wing Tung, Clare

Mak Wing Hei, Melody

Yeung Wing Ting, Stephanie

Edited by:

Dr. Janice Pan


Hsieh, E. (2005). Conflicts in how interpreters manage their roles in provider-patient interactions. PubMed. Retrieved from

Big white duel. (2021, January 07). Retrieved February 23, 2021, from


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