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Researching multilingually: New theoretical and methodological directions Keynote Methodological issues in intercultural, international and comparative.

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Presentation on theme: "Researching multilingually: New theoretical and methodological directions Keynote Methodological issues in intercultural, international and comparative."— Presentation transcript:

1 Researching multilingually: New theoretical and methodological directions Keynote Methodological issues in intercultural, international and comparative research: Opportunities, challenges, approaches and future trends 22 April 2013 Project funded by the AHRC Translating Cultures strand (AH/J005037/1) Prue Holmes (Durham University) Richard Fay (The University of Manchester) Jane Andrews (The University of the West of England) Mariam Attia (The Universities of Manchester and Durham)

2 Overview 1. Background to AHRC-funded Researching Multilingually network project 2. AHRC theme and project aims 3. Some general findings and four illustrative case studies 4. An emergent conceptual framework 5. Implications and where to next

3 Research in an multilingual and intercultural world The Researched Phenomenon … often intercultural in focus and multilingual in modality, e.g., a PhD focusing on the Chinese-speaking students academic acculturation in the UK The Research Environment often intercultural and multilingual, e.g., a Chinese-speaking PhD researcher studying in an English-medium UK university The Researcher(s) often able to live and study in/though several cultures and languages, i.e., intercultural and multilingual The Research Texts/Dissemination Anglo-centric cultures of research and dissemination, i.e., value attached more/only to English-medium publication/dissemination

4 Research Gap We need approaches that involve the multilingual co-production of data and the inclusion of everyone involved in the analysis and reporting of the language, whatever their language (Collier, Hegde, Lee, Nakayama & Yep, 2002) The multilingual nature of such complex and ambiguous processes of meaning construction largely occur in the minds of researchers, or translators/interpreters (Temple, 2007) What level of engagement is required (of Researchers, participants, language mediators)? What resources are available?

5 Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Research Theme - Translating Cultures … translation is an essential tool in ensuring that languages, values, beliefs, histories and narratives can be mutually shared and comprehended. We need to consider not only the complex mechanisms of translating one language into another, but also more broadly how cultural exchange and transmission functions in a variety of circumstances and periods, including communication and miscommunication, multiculturalism, toleration and migration. aspx

6 Our research network objectives 1.Examine the experiences of researchers in translating, interpreting, and writing up collected and generated data (dialogic, mediated, virtual, textual) from one language to another; 2.Explore ethical issues in the representation of data across more than one language; 3.Identify methods and techniques that improve processes of researching multilingually; 4.Develop a conceptual framework of researching multilingually processes; and 5.Explore recommendations and guidelines for researching multilingually that can be implemented by all researchers, and research training programmes. Opportunities, affordances, possibilities, challenges

7 Emergent research questions RQ1: What are the complexities and possibilities of translating cultures when researching multilingually? RQ2: How do researchers operationalise their research design to address these issues? RQ3: What (possible) conceptual frameworks enable researchers to make sense of these complexities?

8 RQ1: Complexities and Possibilities Researchers: Trajectories in engaging in multilingual research R/ppt relationships; power; ethical practices Instruments: Inter/View (intersubjectivity) Consent forms (multimodality), recording, observing Market research (quick & dirty) Language choices: Impacts & opportunities of not knowing a language Including local, regional, tribal, and colonial languages

9 Interpretation/translation: Interpreter = ppts advocate, cultural mediator for monolingual researcher) Working with translatorsneed to share purposes & approaches of R Translator = co-researcher Mediatorshow do they influence interpretation of findings? What about children speaking for parents/men speaking for their wives?

10 Representation: Who is involved? When? At what level? Preparing translated data for the supervisor/examiner – when is enough enough? Faithfulness? The correct way? Interlingual (pragmatic/contextual) glossing Policy: Which languages & where? Expertise of supervisors/examiners? Institutional policies? Editorial/publishing practices?

11 RQ2: Operationalisation Case studies of practice: Am I allowed to do that? (Xiaowei) Researcher spaces (Leah & Richard) Flexible multilingualism (Sara)

12 Case study 1 Am I allowed to do that? (Xiaowei) Zhou, X. (2012). Translating insights into practice across languages. (University of the West of England seminar) Research focus:Chinese students acculturation experiences in a UK university Languages:Chinese, English Data source:Interviews undertaken in Chinese Researcher background:English language and literature student in China; fluent in English; undertaking PhD in UK university

13 Could I do my interviews in Chinese? Xiaowei asked … even though studying in an English-medium research environment, researchers often have multilingual and (inter)cultural resources and repertoires of value and appropriateness for their research … But am I allowed to do that? … such resources are often viewed as obstacles to be overcome as something requiring permission ……rather than as affordances to be embraced, purposefully utilised, and transparently discussed … And should I translate them or transcribe them first? … through such questions, we began to realise the under-discussed complexities of doing research multilingually … even though we so often have/choose to write about it in English …

14 My exploration of the Mandarin-medium literature [re culture] As I set out on my study and realised the potential advantage of my bilingual background, I began to also explore relevant literature written in Mandarin. First, I examined the contemporary Mandarin-medium literature on – the Mandarin equivalent for culture and a phrase existing in Mandarin for more than two thousand years. I noted two characteristics of this literature: it includes different definitions of [culture], definitions which seemed to me similar to what I had learnt from the English-medium literature; and it tends to associate culture with countries or larger geographical entities, including [Chinese culture] and [Western culture].

15 Case study 2 Researcher spaces (Leah & Richard) Davcheva, L. and Fay, R. (2012). Reflections on collaborative research about one language (Ladino) through fieldwork in another (Bulgarian) and analysis, presentation and researcher collaboration largely in a third (English). (Durham) Research focus:Exploration of the narrativised understandings of 14 middle-aged / elderly Sephardic Jews in Bulgaria re Ladino Languages:Bulgarian, Ladino, English Data source:Narrative storytelling Researcher background:Intercultural communication researcher and language trainer in Bulgaria

16 Exploring the potential and affordances of multilingual research 1. Narrative methodology (involving e.g. restorying) 2. Collaborative: 2 researchers (no explicit researcher hierarchy) 3. Intercultural (involving researchers with differing linguistic and cultural backgrounds) 4. Reflexive (reciprocal reflexivity managed through researcher stories - of Ladino experiences and of being researchers) 5. Diverse audiences for research presentation / report

17 Four spaces for mapping the RM aspects of the study: the researched space (complex linguistic space in which Ladino functions co-territorially with e.g. Bulgarian, Turkish, etc) the research space (field and desk) the researcher (collaborative) space; and the research presentation / representation space. Exemplifying the research space re data generation /processing: 1. Storytelling encounter 2. Bulgarian transcript 3. Bulgarian restorying 4. Raw English restorying 5. polished English restorying.

18 Case study 3 Flexible multilingualism (Sara) Ganassin, S. (2012). Community-based research in the NE of England: Flexible multilingualism and language shift in researcher-participant interaction. (Durham seminar) Research focus:Immigrant refugee womens participation in arts and culture; engagement in local community events Languages:More than 25 languages, including English Data source:focus groups; the final report Researcher background:Multilingual (Italian, French, Chinese, Spanish, English) community researcher

19 Monolingual-multilingual tensions => flexible multilingualism Participants linguistic abilities challenged in expressing feelings and emotions about these complex personal and culturally sensitive experiences Flexible multilingualism important in sustaining fluidity of the conversations, creating a comfortable climate, generating data for research The marginalised often used as interpreters, gatekeepers, and/or points of access (utilitarian role); here, Ppts co-construct research (through involvement in the research design and redefinition of concepts across languages) Focus groups Captured the multiplicity of participants voices and perspectives without essentialising the outcomes. Took place simultaneously, in a shared public space Recordings were noisy and crowded, with participants and researchers talking over one another, commenting, and translating => unclear transcriptions => analysis?? Member checking??

20 Multilingualism where the context is English Under-discussed and not problematised throughout the study Yet English displaced - not preferred language of Ppts, or most Rs English recognised in planning stage as challenge, barrier; but chosen as language of data collection and report Funding, time constraints precluded using interpreters English of government documents prioritised in final report => voice, representation, trustworthiness, authenticity??

21 RQ 3: Conceptualisation 1) Fashion/Convention/Intentionality Fashionwhat is usually done Conventionwhat you should do (Convention and fashion ignore awareness) Intentionality What you think is right Researcher reflexivity & sensitivity, identity 2) Relationality Researcher, supervisor, participants, translators/interpreters/transcribers Trust, ethics, power 3) Researching Multilingually - Spaces Research; researched; researcher; re/presentation Interdisciplinary insights

22 Implications For researching multilingually and developing researcher competence: Researchers, supervisors, examiners, editors, publishers, interpreters/translators/transcribers English as a global language/ELF? Ethical procedures and practices Policy (educational institutions - examiners, thesis requirements, e.g., Luxembourg, Durham) Globalisation /internationalisation has brought new insights into these processes We need to avoid being essentialist about language and languages

23 Progress Made a wealth of case study material of researchers reflecting on their RM processes a range of methodological approaches, e.g. studies using interpreters, studies with researcher as ad hoc translator, studies undertaken by (multilingual) research teams, assessed PhD studies, etc. a range of possible conceptual frames, e.g. intentionality (purposefulness) and developing researcher competence some moves towards a policy contribution (from applied linguists to research educators and researchers more generally) some moves towards a pedagogic frame for developing researcher competence vis-à-vis researching multilingually … becoming aware of the possibility exploring the possibilities and their affordances developing RM practice articulating the practice (transparency and intentionality)

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