Trans­la­tion Chal­len­ges. Quali­ta­tive Inter­view­ing in a Multi-Lingual Field (2012)

Peer reviewed / Buchveröffentlichung


This paper suggests how translation processes can be integrated in qualitative interviews in multi-lingual research fields. While theoretical and methodological problems of language and translation have been thoroughly reflected upon from different perspectives in qualitative research, the literature provides little guidance for the practical gathering and handling of multi-lingual material. As a contribution to filling this gap, the paper suggests a systematic, comparative combination of oral and written translations of interviews, which would serve both a diagnostic and a heuristic function. Based on an ethnographic study in Zambian refugee camps and conceptual distinctions between schemes of translation, I identify, in oral translations, five forms of translator's decision to depart from the literal wording in favor of a pragmatic translation intended to aid continuation of the conversation. As an important element of the suggested procedure, the comparison of the translation modes is systematically discussed with the translating research assistant, leading not only to reflection on further translation practices, but, most importantly, to an awareness of important substantial aspects of the material. This heuristic function of the comparative combination of translation modes thus leads to an enhancement of the research process.


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Inhetveen, Katharina (2012): „Translation Challenges. Qualitative Interviewing in a Multi-Lingual
Field“, in: Qualitative Sociology Review 8 (2), S. 28–45.