Module 6: Translation Strategies and How to Avoid Pitfalls

Collecting high-quality qualitative, cross-cultural, and cross-language data comes with unique logistic and analytic challenges.  Concepts of health and illness are socially constructed,(1) and although the interpreter and the researcher can communicate in the same language, there may be vast cultural differences that lead to different understandings of the same concept or interaction.  Employing interpreters as "cultural brokers" in research raises methodological issues around the meaning of concepts which may ultimately impact the quality of results. Below is an outline of several pitfalls that may occur during an interview as well as proactive strategies to avoid them.

On-Site Translator Training

If you wish to use a non-professional interpreter for your research, there are several important training points to convey:

The interpreter should know his or her role. The "appropriate role" for the interpreter is the least invasive role that will assure effective communication.  Three basic roles that an interpreter may fulfill include serving as a conduit, a clarifier, and a cultural broker.(16)

Go To Module 7: Interviewing Ethics

Footnotes

(1) Pitchforth, E. and van Teijlingen, E. (2005) “International Public Health Research Involving Interpreters: A Case Study From Bangladesh” BMC Public Health, Vol. 5, No. 71. Accessed 2/17/09.

(2) Baker P., Hussain Z. & Saunders J. (1991) Interpreters in Public Services: Policy and Training. Venture Press, London.

(3) Pitchforth, E. and van Teijlingen, E. (2005) “International Public Health Research Involving Interpreters: A Case Study From Bangladesh” BMC Public Health, Vol. 5, No. 71. Accessed 2/17/09.

(4) Freed A.O. (1988) Interviewing through an interpreter. Social Work July/August, 315–319.

(5) Simon S. (1996) Gender in translation: Cultural identity and the politics of transmission. London: Routledge.

(6) Phelan M. & Parkman S. (1995) How to do it: work with an interpreter. British Medical Journal 311, 555–557.

(7) Freed A.O. (1988) Interviewing through an interpreter. Social Work July/August, 315–319.

(8) Herndon E, Joyce L. (2004)Getting the Most From Language Interpreters: Guidelines for Using Trained On-Site Interpreters. Family Practice Management 11(6).

(9) Ibid

(10) Murray C.D. & Wynne J. (2001) Researching community, work and family with an interpreter. Community, Work and Family 4(2), 151–171.

(11) Jentsch B. (1998) The ‘‘interpreter effect’’: rendering interpreters visible in cross-cultural research and methodology. Journal of Social Policy 8(4), 275–289.

(12) Hennings J., Williams J. & Haque B.N. (1996) Exploring the health needs in Bangladeshi women: a case study in using qualitative research methods. Health Education Journal 55, 11–23.

(13) Pernice R. (1994) Methodological issues in research with refugees and immigrants. Professional Psychology Research 25(3), 207– 213.

(14) Wallin AM, Ahlström G. (2006) Cross-cultural interview studies using interpreters: systematic literature review. J Adv Nurs;55(6):723–35.

(15) National Council on Interpreting in Health Care. (2005) “National Standards of Practice for Interpreters in Health Care”. Accessed July 28, 2009.

(16)  Roat, Cindy. (2003) Adapted from "Bridging the Gap", Interpreter Training Program Courtesy of Cross-Cultural Health Care Program DiversityRx.

(17) Ibid

(18) Ibid

(19) Ibid