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Design Research 2018: The Power of Proverbial Expression in Design Research


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Presentation given at the Design Research 2018 conference, on the topic of "The Power of Proverbial Expression in Design Research."

Like design research findings, interpreting proverbs is rather complex, but is best done in context. Drawing examples from Hausa, a language extremely rich in proverbial wisdom spoken in Western Africa, this talk illustrates and discusses how hard-to-translate idioms and expressions can be used as an opportunity to enrich our learnings as researchers and better convey what it is we do to the communities we work with.

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Design Research 2018: The Power of Proverbial Expression in Design Research

  1. 1. The Power of Proverbial Expression in Design Research Design Research 2018 Sarah Fathallah
  2. 2. How to help communicate our work to communities 1.
  3. 3. Da dan gari agan ci gari It’s through a villager that one earns the trust of a villager
  4. 4. Mai ɗaki chi ya san inda ke michi ruwa Whoever stays in the room is the only one who knows where the water leaks
  5. 5. Ba’a sa kare gudu sai ya so You cannot force a dog to run
  6. 6. How to nuance and enrich what we learn from communities 2.
  7. 7. Ciwon mace na mace ne The hurt of women, is for women
  8. 8. Jiki ma gayi The one who feels, knows
  9. 9. Dede ruwa dede tsaki Just the right amount of water for the right amount of flour
  10. 10. How to unlock the power of proverbial expression in our work 3.
  11. 11. Engaging native speakers as key members of design research teams as only they can contextualize things in a way no one else can.
  12. 12. Insisting on the value of literal translation when working with local interpreters, and taking the time to get the translation right.
  13. 13. Shying away from pre-prepared scripts (e.g. to introduce consent forms) that were written in a different language before being translated.
  14. 14. Any questions? Thanks! Also, feel free to connect! @SFath