Can Scotland play a leading role in redefining Heritage?

The Intercultural Research Centre in LINCS is leading the next event in the Thought Leadership Series, which will take place on Wednesday 27th May 2015 at 6.00pm at the Postgraduate Centre, Heriot-Watt University, with the title “Can Scotland play a leading role in redefining Heritage?”

Beltane Fire Festival

Before the referendum the SNP promised that in the event of a yes vote, Scotland would sign up to UNESCO’s Charter for Safeguarding of The Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH).

Given the result of the vote, Scotland is not in a position to sign the Charter unless it can persuade Westminster of the value of doing so – but should it? How do we define intangible heritage in Scotland today? Should language be explicitly identified as ICH and does this include British Sign Language and the languages of migrants? Does it include aspects of living heritage supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund? Has ICH any relevance at all for the Historic and Built Environment?

Involving representatives from across the heritage sector, this Thought Leadership Seminar will focus on the heightened awareness of ICH nationally and internationally. It will explore the implications of ICH for the public sector, from museums to the Historic Environment to universities. It will ask whether now is the time for Scotland to take a leading role in creatively re-defining the relationship between tangible and intangible heritage by pioneering a new holistic approach to heritage that will be of relevance on a global scale.

 

Programme

 17:30 Arrival, refreshments and light buffet
 18:00 Setting the Context
Professor Máiréad Nic Craith
Chair in European Culture and Heritage, Heriot-Watt University
18:10 Speakers

  • Ann Packard (Chair) – Chairperson of the RSA Scotland
  • Joanne Orr, CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland
  • Luke Wormald, Head of Historic Environment Strategy, Scottish Government
  • Janet Archer, CEO Creative Scotland
  • Colin McLean, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund
19:00 Open Discussion
19:30 Informal discussion and refreshments
20:00 Event close

This event is free. You can now register online to attend

 

 

Justisigns: Promoting access to legal settings for deaf sign language users

Written by Robert Skinner

Click here to see a BSL version of this blog

How accessible is your local police force? Is your local police force prepared for a situation that involves a deaf person? What about the interpreting provisions? What specific training is needed to improve interpreting standards that go on to protect deaf individual’s rights when it comes to accessing the justice system?

Legislation is in place that recognises the human rights of deaf people to ensure equal access to the legal system. On 20 October 2010 the European Parliament adopted the Directive on the Rights to Interpretation and Translation in Criminal Proceedings. This means everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:

  • to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him;
  • to have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court

The principle that every European citizen is entitled to equal access to justice is well established and is enshrined in EU legislation and case law. EU Member State’s Public service providers are under an obligation to ensure equality of provision of their services across language and culture.

What does this mean for the average deaf European citizen? This means that your local Police Force is under an obligation to make reasonable adjustments to facilitate the provision of their service to deaf people. Before this can be acted upon police forces first need to know what equal access means, what steps need to be taken and how this can be delivered.

Justisigns is a 30-month project funded through the European Commission Leonardo Da Vinci Lifelong Learning Programme, and the aim of the project is to promote access to justice for deaf sign language users, with a particular focus on police settings. Jemina Napier, Graham Turner and Robert Skinner from the Languages & Intercultural Studies department at Heriot-Watt University are conducting the project in collaboration with consortium partners: Trinity College Dublin in Ireland, University of Applied Sciences of Special Needs Education in Switzerland, KU Leuven in Belgium, efsli (European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters) and EULITA (European Legal Interpreters & Translators Association).

The project is scheduled to end in May 2016. The first phase of the project involved conducting a survey of the nature of legal interpreting provision for deaf people across Europe (Napier & Haug, in preparation). In sum, it was found that although there are some established provisions for legal sign language interpreting across Europe, it is inconsistent. Furthermore, there does not seem to be a uniform approach across Europe to the training/ certification of legal interpreters, and the (lack of) availability of interpreters for legal settings is a Europe-wide issue. It is, however, difficult to identify legal sign language interpreting needs when it is not possible to identify the number of deaf sign language users in the legal system

The consortium has decided to focus on deaf people’s access to interpreters in police interviews for the next stage of the project until May 2016, as this is an under researched area. The goal of the project is to collect data through focus groups and interviews with deaf people, interpreters and police officers about their experiences. The information we gather will then be used to develop training materials and to offer workshops/ courses to these key stakeholder groups. By applying research in this way we can ensure deaf people and interpreters influence how equal access to the legal system is established.

In the 1990s, a ground-breaking study ‘Equality before the Law’ from the Deaf Studies Research Unit at Durham University was published (Brennan & Brown, 1997). In this research a range of issues were identified such as:

  • Lack of understanding and appreciation from the legal profession around what it means to be deaf and be part of a linguistic/cultural minority group.
  • Negative attitudes towards interpreters.
  • The awareness and need to use a registered/qualified interpreter who has been trained to work in court/police settings. In many cases CSW or family/friends were used to act as interpreters.
  • Lack of training opportunities to prepare trained interpreters to effectively work in Court/Police settings.
  • Treatment of deaf people as mentally disabled or “dumb”.
  • Failure from legal professionals to make adjustments that enable the interpreter to do his/her job.
  • Failure from legal representatives to video tape interviews with deaf suspects/witness/victims.
  • The need to develop internal policies that promote the use of good practice, such as booking a qualified interpreter; filming an interview
  • Few deaf people understood their own legal rights.
  • Deaf people do not always understand the reasons for their convictions – thus questioning the outcome of their “rehabilitation”.
  • Challenges with providing a faithful and accurate interpretation between English into BSL and BSL into English

While this list represents a scary reality, where deaf people are at risk of being wrongly convicted, our preliminary research has found some level of progress in the UK over the last 18 years. For example:

  • There is legislation in place that insists on equality before the law.
  • It is recommended that only qualified interpreters are used in the legal system.
  • Some interpreters have received legal training.
  • Some police forces have in place policies to guide officers when it comes to interviewing deaf suspects/witnesses/victims.
  • A few police forces in the UK have begun to develop online videos, recognising the specific linguistic and cultural needs of the deaf community.
  • Deaf professionals are now working within the legal system.

What our research so far reveals is that some forms of good practice exists. Unfortunately, we are not seeing a consistent approach to ensuring that the rights of deaf people are protected. Often good practice is achieved because individuals recognise the linguistic and cultural differences of deaf people. This tell us that what is needed is quite basic, a shared recognition and appreciation that deaf people belong to a distinct linguistic and cultural community. Once this definition has accepted the values of the legal system can begin to meet the needs of this community. The linguistic challenges interpreters experience in legal settings still persist, many of these challenges appear because of how the language is used and the vocabulary differences between English and BSL.

The Justisigns work is not complete. We are still running further focus groups and interviews. To support our research we are looking for volunteers in Scotland and England to participate. If you would like to contact us about your experience please email r.skinner@hw.ac.uk.

The evidence we collect will be used to inform the development of training materials and recommended guidelines for police forces.

A research symposium will also be held as part of the project on Saturday 7th November 2015, to discuss various methodological approaches to conducting interpreting research in legal settings. See http://ctiss.hw.ac.uk/seminars/justisigns.html or http://artisinitiative.org/events/artisheriot-watt2015/

More information about the project can be seen here: http://www.justisigns.com/JUSTISIGNS_Project/About.html with a version in BSL at http://www.justisigns.com/justisigns_sls/BSL.html

All information collected through the research will remain confidential. The project has received ethics approval from the Heriot-Watt University School of Management & Languages Ethics office.

Future directions for Scotland’s culture

by Cristina Clopot

Last Sunday was a day of passionate discussions at the Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh. What’s next for Scotland’s culture? This was the central question posed by a group of cultural activists in an event organized under the umbrella of the festival TradFest. The event, coordinated by cultural activist Mairi McFadyen, with the help of Roanne Dods, was structured based on the world café model. A massive task of discussing the current situation and future possibilities was set at the start of the day.

First, a round of cultural actors from different domains shared their views on the current situation culture taking into account, among others, the recent political elections and last year’s referendum. Their aim was to provoke and raise some general ideas. The first panel included David Grieg (playwright), Adura Onashile  (actress), Kieran Hurley (writer), Scott Hames (academic), Gerda Stevenson (actress, writer), Aonghas MacNeacail (poet) and Donald Smith (director – Storytelling Centre).  Each of them delivered serious, funny, personal and general comments on their craft and the general landscape of culture in Scotland. The themes discussed included:

  • a personal list published here which mentions amongst others the use of plural when discussing culture (David Grieg);
  • HIFA festival in Zimbabwe as an example of an event embracing diversity (Adura Onashile);
  • That art can be ‘a hammer with which to shape’ reality (Kieran Hurley);
  • the interplay between politics and culture – the outlines of the current situation when culture is arrière-garde rather than avant-garde of politics (Scott Hames);
  • the beauty and richness of expression of Scots language (Gerda Stevenson)
  • speakers of heritage languages such as Scots and Gaelic and prejudices against their use (Aonghas MacNeacail)
  • culture’s effects such as encouraging human connections, the link between culture and heritage, and a need for inclusion in international debates around heritage (Donald Smith).

For further details on each ‘provocation’ please see #ForCulture on Twitter.

I had the pleasure of participating in a group where interesting and active discussions took place. We discussed about the link between culture and heritage and how this link can be seen both in a positive light (based on the emphasis that Scotland places on heritage and and its potential to assist cultural project through association) as well as a negative one (heritage perceived only as bricks and stones). The power of culture and arts to educate was also debated, as well as the need for further inclusion (as art can be perceived, at times, as elitist). A further point, later on resumed by other groups also, was that culture needs to be sensitive to diversity and multiculturalism.

The second round of provocations came after this and new ideas about potential ideas for development emerged:

  • Karine Polwart (songwriter) called for embracing difficult heritage also and the need to have conversations beyond the group of like-minded people;
  • Mara Menzies (storyteller) mentioned the need for a new narrative of Scotland, one that presents the stories of women also;
  • Tam Dean Burn (actor) discussed about politics and women and made the audience sing along with him Freedom Come All Ye;
  • Peter Arnott (playwright) discussed about the link between culture and identity and how identities are sometimes discussed in relation to the ‘Other’ (often by negation);
  • Janie Nicoll (visual artist) presented her experience at the Venice Biennale and raised the problem of artists’ wages;
  • Christopher Silver (journalist) reminded us about the power of narratives and their transformative effects;
  • Janice Galloway (writer) talked about the need for people to understand the value of culture and reminded us that artistic products cannot be prescribed through business plans.

Inspired by these inspiring ‘provocations’ we re-joined our groups to discuss ways of moving forward. The discussions in my group concentrated on 5 key terms:

  • untapped – as there is an immense potential not used, we are at a moment of opportunity
  • outward – the need to embrace diversity but also look outside to the world
  • broadcasting – a need for better coverage of culture on major broadcasting media
  • lifelong – linked with education – as a commitment for development of the individual throughout life
  • action/conversation – the need to involve in the discussion not only creators of art, but also different stakeholders such as policy makers, etc.

Other groups mentioned ideas such as understanding culture as a process and not a product, the possibility of a tax-deductible legislation for arts, creation of a manual of activism, the need to make public servants and educator aware of culture’s value. David Francis encouraged people in the audience to act as ‘bards’ of culture. Avenues for further development of this effort to reconfigure the current cultural landscape were also discussed building on the conclusions of the day. Further plans included possibilities to form a community as well as organising other meetings.

For further details about the event visit the project’s website and Twitter.

The Language of Reason

by Katerina Strani

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A café. Once a dedicated space where people gathered to discuss culture and politics. A space of arguing, debating, learning. A space where public opinion was formed and authority was challenged, contested, or at least influenced. A public sphere: a communicative space where people gathered to talk about public matters – politics.
Their aim – to form public opinion and to influence government.

Today, public spheres have evolved into more complex, more sophisticated spaces but also equally more diffuse and more informal. Think of online platforms such as blogs, twitter, facebook. A public sphere does not have to be a physical space waiting to be used, as these online platforms have proved. Instead, public spheres are spaces of communication that emerge with communication and die out when communication stops, when there is nothing left to debate.

Also, nowadays people are constantly bombarded with information and opinions, they have become more knowledgeable, but also more passionate about certain economic and political issues. Political debates are not a privilege of the elite anymore. Again, think of online platforms such as blogs, twitter, facebook. Think of public squares such as Tahrir square during the Arab spring, Syntagma square during the Greek financial crisis, or Taksim square during the demonstrations in Turkey in 2013. Anyone can join the debate, anyone can make themselves heard, anyone can influence public opinion – right???

Well, not really.

In order to participate in online public spheres, for instance, you need to have access to a computer and an internet connection. With this prerequisite, we’ve already narrowed down participation by about half (and having access to technology doesn’t mean you can use it)… But that has always been the case. In ancient public spheres, for example, such as the Forum in Rome or the Agora in Athens, only a tiny proportion of citizens actually participated in the debate. Only free-born male landowners and citizens of Rome or Athens, so no women, no foreigners, no slaves. Fast-forward to the 18th – 19th centuries and the situation hasn’t really changed. An eminent German philosopher with the name Jürgen Habermas writes that the public spheres of that time, such as coffeehouses and salons were composed of male citizens who had property in their name. These people communicated – allegedly – through the public use of reason.

So there has always been some form of gatekeeping – be it gender, financial status, nationality. Today most of these barriers are not relevant anymore, but there is one that still persists : language. It’s funny, language, be it spoken or signed, is at the heart of communication and yet multilingualism seems to be largely ignored in communication studies. An increasingly globalised world means that public spheres are becoming more multilingual, more multicultural. It means that people can participate in public life by speaking a language different from their ‘native’ one, or if that’s not possible, use the medium of translation or interpreting. If you ask me, this has always been the case but it has been largely bracketed, to use Nancy Fraser‘s term.

So what do we see today? A rise in the use of “minority languages” in citizen debates, such as Polish, Urdu or BSL in Britain, for example. With the exception of BSL, these are sometimes called migrant languages, to distinguish them from so-called heritage languages that are also gaining popularity once again, such as Gaelic in Scotland, Breze in Brittany, Cornish in Cornwall etc. I use the terms minority, migrant and heritage languages with caution, as these eventually overlap and their definitions are a bit fuzzy. The point is, multilingualism in political debate is a hard fact and it is here to stay.

The practical issue here, of course, is that historically, common languages (linguae francae) were used for convenience, so there was always a dominant language used in everyday discussions and in national parliaments. But think of national parliaments in Switzerland, Belgium, Canada. In the EU Parliament, interpreters are used and any cases of miscommunication are similar to ones that occur in monolingual environments anyway.

A lingua franca is not always the most practical solution. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. Because if we think of the gatekeeping issue, if we impose a lingua franca we are immediately excluding those citizens and taxpayers who choose to speak their own migrant, minority or heritage language, whatever you want to call it. And there are enough exclusions already, don’t you think?

When we speak a different language, we essentially become different people. When we think in a different language, we think in a different way. Languages represent cultures, belief systems, lifeworlds. If we switch to a different language, we switch to a different worldview. Forcing people to speak the same language especially in political debate is to force them to think differently and to have different arguments. Some people consider it as a form of oppression.

Who is to say that English in Britain, French in France etc. is the only accepted language of critical-rational debate? It is arrogant to think that one dominant language is the language of reason and the sole purveyor of truth. This is why we need to embrace multilingualism, we need to foster and encourage it, especially in politics, where it is most vital. It encourages pluralism in thought and expression, which is at the heart of democracy.

Why Interpreters Should Forget About Quality (and concentrate on value)

by Jonathan Downie

How can we define “quality” in interpreting? What does it mean to be a “good interpreter”? Before I answer that, let me tell you a little story.

I was doing chuchotage interpreting at a wood industry conference. The first plenary talk was given by an economist. This particular economist crammed as many charts as he could on each slide. Added to this was his love of long, complex numbers. Numbers are hard enough when we are in nice booths and have the chance to take notes in advance. When you are doing chuchotage and you have no advance warning, they are practically impossible.

Faced with this task, I decided to concentrate on giving a version that would be useful to the French delegates, even if that meant dropping a few (or more than a few) numbers in the process. I had realised that the purpose of the entire conference was to help people see the economic context they had been in and prepare for the one they were going into. So that’s what I aimed to do in my interpreting.

Now, interpreters have almost universally defined “good interpreting” or “quality” in interpreting as being all about interpreting everything the speaker says, getting terminology perfect, and staying totally neutral. So, following that logic, what I did at that wood conference would count as bad interpreting.

Yet, from the point of view of the people who actually needed my services I did a great job. Actually, the head of the French delegation leaned behind me, while I was working, and said to his colleague “il est bon, cet interprète, n’est-ce pas?” [This interpreter’s good, isn’t he!]

We can now be pretty sure that the reason for such differences in quality judgments is that clients use different criteria from interpreters when judging quality. In fact, even when interpreters and clients seem to be using the same criteria (such as accuracy), it turns out that they are likely to be using completely different definitions.

Now, we could stop at this point, argue that clients are clueless and go on doing what we are already doing. There are two problems with that. The first is that it happens to be clients who are paying our invoices so it is bad manners to call them clueless! The second problem is that, as soon as we assume that we have things right already, we stop learning.

A more useful explanation of the difference between how clients see interpreting and how we see it is that we often talk about “quality” in interpreting in a way that separates it from any context. We describe it in terms of reducing errors, creating standards and maximising productivity. In short, the way we often talk about quality treats interpreting as if it were a product and not a service.

Clients necessarily view interpreting in terms of the contexts in which they receive it and in terms of what they want to achieve in that context. Instead of neutral, depersonalised “quality”, they view interpreting in terms of the value it adds to them. In short, for them, it is a service and not a product.

That knowledge is vital if we are ever going to improve the status of interpreting and stop the relentless drive towards cost-cutting in some circles. For as long as we talk about interpreting as if it were a product that can be described in terms of “quality”, we are actually encouraging clients to look for ways to cut costs and reduce how much they pay for it. If we start talking about interpreting in terms of the value it adds, then we will have a much better platform from which to argue that interpreting is worth investing in. It’s our choice.

Looking for participants for anti-racism and anti-discrimination research project

A few months ago we posted some information on a new research project in LINCS on how racist hate crimes are communicatively constructed. The project is called RADAR – Regulating Anti-Racism and Anti-discrimination. It brings together 9 partners from 6 countries and it is funded by the European Commission Directorate General for Justice.

The overall aim of the project is to  provide law enforcement officials and legal professionals with the necessary tools to facilitate the identification of ‘racial’ hate- motivated and hate-producing communication. This will be achieved through training activities and events, but the project will also provide a handbook, comparative studies and analyses. For more information on the project’s objectives, deliverables and individual work packages, please visit the project website.

The project is still in its initial stages; it started in November 2014 and will end in October 2016.

We are currently looking for victims of racial harassment or racist abuse for the purpose of conducting interviews on their experience(s). If you have been the victim of racist abuse in the UK and you would like to be interviewed for the purposes of this project (your personal details will not be disclosed), please contact Dr. Katerina Strani at  A.Strani@hw.ac.uk

When ‘racially’-motivated hate crimes are not recognised as such, this leads to a violation of fundamental human rights.

RADAR_logo

Exploring Access to Mental Health Care Services for Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Patients

by Isabelle Perez

The rising prevalence of mental illness is a growing concern for societies worldwide and access to mental health care is one of the top public health priorities in Scotland, as in many countries. In addition, as more and more people migrate and settle or take refuge in countries with a dominant language other than their own, the need for interpreting/cultural mediation in mental health care settings is also on the increase.

The research project on Access to Mental Health Care for Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Patients, supported by the Scottish Universities Insight Institute (SUII), is led by the Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies in Scotland (CTISS), based at Heriot-Watt University, in collaboration with the University of Strathclyde, home to the Centre for Health Policy; the Psychiatric Care Unit, at St John’s Hospital, Livingston; and the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.

The aim of the project is to bring together mental health practitioners, interpreters, health care administrators, policy makers and academics to discuss the most salient care provision issues with the goal of understanding systemic difficulties and enhancing access to services.

A one-day research seminar will take place on Thursday 9 April at the SUII premises in Glasgow. A multidisciplinary group of international experts from Australia, Canada, China, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands, the UK and the US will discuss and scope, from their respective viewpoints, current issues faced in the provision of mental health care to linguistically and culturally diverse patients.

The same group of international experts will contribute to a linked open seminar with the wider stakeholder community to be held on the morning of Friday 10 April at the Riccarton campus of Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh.  This seminar aims to extend the discussion from research to application by creating an opportunity to share experiences and examples of good practice from around the world.

For practical information and to register for either or both events, please visit the project webpage.

For further details please contact Professor Isabelle Perez, Languages & Intercultural Studies (LINCS).

Call for papers! Special issue on Signed Language Interpreting and Translation

Translation and Interpreting Studies

Special Issue

Signed Language Interpreting and Translation

CALL FOR PAPERS

Guest Editors

Laurie Swabey, St. Catherine University

Brenda Nicodemus, Gallaudet University

Translation and Interpreting Studies (John Benjamins) invites proposals for a special thematic issue on signed language interpretation and translation to be published in April of 2018.  The editors aim to bring together papers that address critical issues in the linguistic analysis of interpretations and translations that occur between a signed language and spoken or written language.

We welcome data driven papers on the spectrum between a microanalysis of one specific lexical item to the examination of a full interpreted or translated discourse. Papers may take a descriptive, applied, or theoretical approach to interpreting and translation of a signed language. We encourage a broad range of methodological approaches and theoretical frameworks, including qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods.

Suggested Topics (related to interpreting and translation):

  • –       discourse in specialized settings (e.g., legal, healthcare, education, politics, media, video)
  • –       interpreting for emergent signers
  • –       lexical gaps between signed and spoken languages
  • –       discourse structure and signing space
  • –       conversation analysis
  • –       figurative language and metaphor
  • –       message accuracy between source and target
  • –       effects of modality in linguistic production/reception
  • –       metalinguistics, semantics, and pragmatics
  • –       language use in interpreter/translator education
  • –       linguistic issues in trilingual interpreting and translation
  • –       the work of deaf interpreters and translators
  • –       linguistic issues in tactile and close vision interpreting

Timeline for Authors

Abstracts (400-500) words due to guest editors December 1, 2015
Decision on abstracts February 1, 2016
Submission of full manuscripts September 1, 2016
Decisions to authors February 1, 2017
Final versions of papers due August 1, 2017
Publication of special issue Spring 2018

Contact Information

Abstracts should be sent to both guest editors. If you have any questions, please contact Laurie Swabey (laswabey@stkate.edu) and Brenda Nicodemus (brenda.nicodemus@gallaudet.edu).

 

“I can write it, I can understand it, but I’ve never spoken it”

by Nicola Bermingham

Last Wednesday, 11th March, Nicola Bermingham held a seminar at the School of Celtic and Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. The seminar, entitled “I can write it, I can understand it, but I’ve never spoken it”: challenges faced by immigrant “new speakers” in Galicia, formed part of the Soillse seminar series which focuses on minority language policy and sociolinguistics.

The seminar explored issues around ‘new speakerness’ in the context of migration, taking Galicia as the primary research site. Traditionally, Galicia has experienced lower levels of immigration than the rest of Spain. However, the first decade of the 21st century saw an increase in the arrival of immigrants. This was due in part to increased work opportunities in the primary sector as well as the ‘saturation’ of other autonomous communities such as Catalonia. Hence, Galicia, which was once a region synonymous with emigration, has now become host to a diverse migrant population.

The seminar focused specifically on Nicola’s ongoing PhD research, which examines the role of language in the integration of a community of Cape Verdean immigrants living in a small fishing town in northern Galicia. Interestingly, the hierarchical relationship between Portuguese and Creole in Cape Verde shares many similarities with that of Spanish and Galician in Galicia.

Drawing on excerpts from life history interviews carried out with various members of the community, the seminar provided a platform to tease out discourse on language ownership and language as a means of integration into a host community. Following the presentation, thought-provoking discussions took place surrounding the challenges and opportunities faced by Cape Verdean migrants in becoming a “new speaker” of Galician and Spanish.

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Nicola Bermingham is a PhD student in the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University. Her research interests include sociolinguistics, migration studies, and minority languages. Looking specifically at the Galician context, her work examines the role language has to play in the integration of immigrants.