By Dr Robert Gibb
8 September 2014
Reproduced with kind permission by the author from glasgowsociology.com
What sorts of issues are raised when more than one language is used in a sociological or anthropological research project?
Language has long been an important subject of sociological and anthropological inquiry. However, researchers working within these disciplines have written surprisingly little about the impact of language-related issues on the development of their own projects, from the initial research design stage right through to the dissemination of the results. More specifically, relatively few sociologists and anthropologists have attempted to discuss in detail how their own knowledge (or lack of knowledge) of different languages and their decisions to use (or not to use) interpreters and/or translators during fieldwork have affected the research they have conducted. Nevertheless, there appears now to be a growing awareness of the need to take such issues seriously and to make more informed choices when carrying out multilingual – and monolingual – research.
Of course, language learning and the use of interpreters in research projects have been discussed periodically since the emergence of sociology and anthropology as academic disciplines….