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Finding Meaning: A Cross-Language Mixed-Methods Research Strategy

  • Catrina A. MacKenzieEmail author
Reference work entry

Abstract

The literature devoted to methodological issues arising from working through an interpreter is surprisingly sparse. References that exist tend to be dated anthropological works or tend to focus on interviews in social work and medicine. The older literature tends to focus on the mechanics of translation and how to conduct an interview with an interpreter, while more recent works start to address the issues of whether the interpreter should be “invisible” or whether the changing dynamics of the interview with an interpreter present merits the rigorous treatment of the role and influence of the interpreter with respect to power and subjectivity. Interpreters are fundamental to the research process when a foreign researcher is conducting research with an indigenous culture, and when the researcher is not fluent in the local language. In this chapter, an experientially developed cross-language research strategy is discussed, including choosing and assessing the linguistic skill of interpreters, the influence of interpreter social position and subjectivity on transcript data, and the challenges encountered when translating and conducting a household survey, including questions about self-reported illness. The chapter ends with a summary of the components needed for a successful cross-language strategy, including the need to acknowledge the limitations introduced as a result of working through an interpreter, and the need to make the role, credentials, social position, and subjectivity of the interpreter explicit in published results.

Keywords

Language interpretation Translation Social position Subjectivity Cross-language research 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA

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