THE INTRICACIES OFMULTILINGUAL RESEARCH María del Carmen Méndez García email@example.com
Contenido1 Introduction2 Reflection on the intricacies of multilingual research3 Conclusion
Introduction Bilingual PhD dissertation: education in Cultural aspects inAndalusia and EFL textbooks Intercultural Competence National researchICOPROMO Project: Interviews with JAEN Project: members of Jaen Analysis of multicultural teams English Needs
2. REFLECTION ON THE INTRICACIES OFMULTILINGUAL RESEARCH
2.1. Translation-related issues
Translation-related issues Translation issuesScenarios: • Seek for comparable information in different contexts with research instruments prepared in a language (and culture?) for use in others (Birbili, 2000) • Research tools are translated from English into LL (Birbili, 2000) • Power imbalance (Chen, 2011): even though the interviewee and interviewer share the same language? • Language proficiency (status of native speaker) (Méndez & Pérez, 2005) • Academic status (upper educational stages)Academic discussion: • Focus on data generation rather than on data-analysis (Tai et al., 2004) • Not a discernible focus on all the stages of research (i.e. initial)
Translation-related issues Translation issuesCollecting data in LL and presenting the findings in FL: • May have a direct impact on research validity (Birbili, 2000) • Factors affecting the quality of translation when the translator and the researcher coincide (Birbili, 2000): • Translation-related decisions • Linguistic competence of the translator • Individual autobiography • Circumstances in which translation takes place • His/her knowledge of the informants’ culture: • Sharing a frame of reference with the informants (Tsai et al., 2004): languaculture (Agar, 1994) • For the sake of trustworthiness and validity, insiders have to be present both for data collection and analysis (Tsai et al., 2004) • Insider’s researcher perspective: interprets stated and unstated factors, how things are and how they become (Tsai et al., 2004) • Insider: subjectivity and may overlook key behaviours and concepts
Translation-related issues 1. Achieving conceptual equivalenceUnsolvable problem (Phillips, 1960: 291): • ‘Almost any utterance … carries with it a set of assumptions, feelings and values that the speaker may or may not be aware of’ • Relevance of ‘emotional connotations’ (Temple, 1997; Birbili, 2000): ‘an important part of conceptualization, incorporating values and beliefs’ (Temple & Edwards, 2002) • When the languages do not offer lexical equivalence (Birbili, 2000) conceptual equivalence should be obtained (Deutscher, 1968): wordy?
Translation-related issues 1. Achieving conceptual equivalenceAt all stages of multilingual research: • Onset: managing key vocabulary items (‘modules’): ‘the basic concepts used in a research project need to be investigated’ (Temple, 2005) • An understanding of the way language is tied to social realities, to literary forms and to chanding identities (Simon, 1996: 137) • Development: • equivalence of perceived goals and outcomes • equivalence of perceived achievements • equivalence of what is ethic or not: whose ‘ethics’ prevail? • Final stages: • how, when and where to disseminate? • who is entitled to do so? • in which language(s)?
Translation-related issues 2. Comparatility of grammatical formsComparability of grammatical forms: • A problem when the LL involves structures that do not exist in English (Birbili, 2000) • Syntactical style is reported to be one of the most difficult features to convey in another language (Ercikan, 1998) • Example: Agency
Translation-related issues3. Making participants’ words accessible & understandingDepending on the function of the quotation (Birbili, 2000): • ‘Literal’ translation • it may do more justice to participants’ words • it may reduce the readability of the text • often conveys meanings that are not parallel across language and cultures (González and Lincoln, 2006) • ‘Free’ translation • it may be more elegant but risky • editing quotations in L1 still involves the risk of misrepresenting the meaning (Rubin and Rubin, 1995)
Translation-related issues 4. Multi-vocal and multi-lingual textsMulti-vocal and multi-lingual texts (González and Lincoln, 2006): • ‘For the present Western scholars hold more power and resources in the world of academic and community research’ • ‘Language is not neutral and translation is an act that creates a world that is presented from the author’s position within it’ (Temple, 2005) • ‘Translatese’ (Temple, 2005): betrayal of the ideal into the language of the strongest • Tenets • data should be presented in LL and TL • the results of the research must be available and accessible in the LL (depends on informants: FLT) • informants wonder about the way their words would be translated (depends on the informants: colleagues/FLTs)
Translation-related issues Translation techniques (Birbili, 2000) On-going research check Consultation with Pre-test Information seeking / Back-translation other people or pilot checking and clarification questions (Chen, 2011) Reviewer: Ask native repondents Contrasting Creates new Checking Discussing speaker of FL for answers his/her views Time- problems: understanding the meaning able to read and their with otherconsuming false sense of with each of words and interpretation interviewees’ security respondent understand LL of the items’ opinions and culture meaning
2.2. Interpreting verbal and non-verbal cues in multilingual and multicultural teams
Interpreting verbal and non-verbal cues Non-verbal cuesNon-verbal cues: • are subtle, usually go unnoticed & make people feel uneasy • the unease may grow: embarrassing to express this feeling • may cause misunderstandings & communication breakdown • problematic in meetings and socialization • examples: haptics, proxemics, chronemics (Pérez & Méndez, 2007, 2010)
Interpreting verbal and non-verbal cues Verbal cuesVerbal cues: • The intended meaning or the lack of meaning equivalence are not always obvious • Each of us ‘translates’ part of our language into TL (Meierkord) • People speaking languages pertaining to the same family find it easier to understand each other • Misunderstandings occur even at very basic moments of research and with basic concepts • Examples: intonation (Temple, 2005), talk vs. silence, topic management and turn-taking, direct vs. indirect styles (Pérez and Méndez, 2007, 2010)
2.3. Contextualising the study
Contextualising the study ContextualisationContext: • ‘Participants express their ideas, perceptions, and interpretations, based in a context in which they have learnt and that imbues their realities’ González and Lincoln (2006) • Literature review: • should include the LL literature • Data interpretation: • translation of language and culture • data should probably be analysed in the LL (González and Lincoln, 2006): and in the FL? • Data presentation: • extensive explanation of the context of language and culture: comprehensive, holistic portrayal of the social and cultural dimensions (Erlandson et al., 1993); multi-layared societies (Jarvis, 1987) • a suggestion is to present data in more than one language (González and Lincoln, 2006): space constraints
Contextualising the study ESSENTIAL WHEN: Working across cultures and languages (using the FL for dissemination) Reporting on findings which are context-specific Disseminating (conferences, seminars, papers) incontexts other than where the study was conductedNEED TO STOP TAKING THINGS FOR GRANTEDThey are not evident to the external reader / listener
2.4. Role ascribed to the languages
Role ascribed to the languages 1. Looking into the literature• Finding out key references in: • English (seminal studies?) • The language of the society/ies where the study is conducted: feasible? • Other languages (related languages)• Pondering on the usefulness of the literature: • Are seminal studies too broad/too much context-specific? • Are they helpful / applicable to the ‘local’ study? • Is there any prior ‘local’ research on the same / related issues? • If so, in which language(s) are they published? • How does this language aspect affect the selection of the literature?
Role ascribed to the languages 2. Designing the research tools LANGUAGE ROLE LANGUAGE USE Conceptualization: TL Design & development: TL Advisors Revision of toolsnative speakers of the team language (TL)? academic value + language use / Team members clarity do they contribute according to their Role of other languages command of the TL? Insignificant? Is the tool translated? • Research tools: likely to be written both in LL and FL LL: • Revision in both to ensure that ideas are clearly conveyedInternational • Demanding process: inclusion of changes (small) in documents in advisors LL and FL produced • The LL is probably the only language in the tool design • Less linguistically demanding process: focus on ‘academic’ factorsLL: Local / • Could the lack of international advisors have an effect on the quality ofno advisors the tool? And the lack of a FL (objetivity, critical approach, mindset)?
Role ascribed to the languages 3. Gathering dataWhen piloting in multilingual The process is When working in Translation teams, the similar in local multilingual issues becomeresearch tool is research when teams the data paramount: from reformulated in resorting to obtained in LL is a ‘faithful’ to aTL and then it is international reported in TL ‘free’ translation translated into advisors the LL
Role ascribed to the languagesWorking individually Working in teams Data probably analysed in LL Although gathered in LL, data are likely to be analysed in TL Finding out similarities and differences It may be discussed with local advisors with data obtained in the other contexts Language and context factors are Linguistic and contextual factors may shared and taken for granted cause misunderstandings If data is re-analysed, the perspective Divergent patterns in the different is very unlikely to change considerably contexts may make it difficult to agree on the findings Data may need to be ‘re-analysed’ from a different perspective Data analysis is consensus oriented
Role ascribed to the languages 5. Reporting on findingsQualitative research: • Key findings have to be translated into the TL and this may turn out to be a stumbling-block: • Complexities of reporting participants’ words: from a ‘faithful’ to a ‘free’ translation • Necessity to gloss part of the participants’ words • Making sure that the meaning is accurately conveyed • Importance of contextualising the ‘individual’ studies • Making explicit the relationship among the data yielded in the different contexts where the study was conducted • Ensuring that the general context of the research is clear and that the specific contexts are likewise manifiest
Role ascribed to the languages Participants’ words are simply reproduced Decision to Contextual clues are not report in LL essential The research will not be read world-wideIndividual Complexities of reporting participants’ words research Necessity to gloss the text to make informants’ words understandable Decision to Making sure that the meaning is report in FL accurately conveyed (English) Importance of contextualising the study Prospective world-wide audience
Role ascribed to the languages
Role ascribed to the languages Role ascribed to the languagesInterestingly: • Spanish prevails in data collection and analysis (central parts of research) • English is used in the initial and final parts of research • Spanish is the ‘working language’ of the research process core whereas English is the language to prepare for research and to report on the research (pre- / post- research): • English may help the research be more objective • Reporting in Spanish causes problems of, for instance, terminology
Conclusion Researching multilingually- contributed to my development- helps me question the role of languages and cultures in thehuman communication- delve into my own language and culture and FLs- conduct and disseminate research in L1 and FL- using English has required a change of mindset so that researchcomplies with acceptable standards (English-dominated realm)-ELF is powerful but not value-free or culture-free- needs a constant process of dialogue and negotiation
THANK YOU! GRACIAS! María del Carmen Méndez García firstname.lastname@example.org