Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 1–4 | Cite as

Reconceptulizing Language Discordance: Meanings and Experiences of Language Barriers in the U.S. and Taiwan

  • Elaine Hsieh
Letter to the Editor


Individuals with language barriers may face challenges unique to a host society. By examining and comparing the sociocultural conditions that can result in providers and patients not sharing the same language in the United States and in Taiwan, I argue that (a) language discordance is a social phenomenon that may entail diverging meanings and experiences in different countries; (b) language-discordant patients may not share similar experiences even if they are in the same country; and (c) disparities in language concordance may be confounded with other disparities and cultural particulars that are unique to a host society. In addition, because English is a dominant language in medicine, language-discordant patients’ quality of care in Taiwan can be moderated by their fluency in English.


Language discordance Cross-cultural care Medical English 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interests

The author reports no conflicts of interests. The study has been approved by the Institutional Review Board at The University of Oklahoma.

Ethical Approval

The study has been approved by the Institutional Review Board at The University of Oklahoma.

Informed Consent

All participants have offered informed consent prior to participating in the author’s Fulbright study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CommunicationUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA

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