The INCS in LINCS

LINCS is not only about languages; it stands for Languages and INterCultural Studies and our core purpose is to create multilingual, multicultural, global citizens. To achieve this, the “INCS” in LINCS specialises in (inter)cultural studies such as living cultural heritage, language policy and intercultural communication.

Our Cultural Studies section manages the cultural studies courses and programmes we deliver. Courses include Global Heritage, Cross-Cultural perspectives on Society, Intercultural perspectives on Sustainable Development, as well as the Global Courses (taught in all HWU campuses) Intercultural Issues in Business and Management (Undergraduate), and Intercultural Communication in the Workplace (Postgraduate). It also manages our MSc Cultural Heritages programme family, which includes our MSc in Tourism and Heritage Management. Cultural Studies staff and students are also members of our Intercultural Research Centre (IRC).  

People

Staff

Katerina Strani is the Head of the Cultural Studies section. She has a background in Languages and Political Theory and her PhD thesis (2011) focused on communicative rationality in the public sphere. Her research is interdisciplinary and she is interested in how multilingualism and multiculturalism shape contemporary society and politics at all levels. Following an EU-funded project on hate speech and racism (RADAR), Katerina has developed a keen research interest in the concept of race, particularly race relations and the language of race. She teaches International Politics, Society and Institutions in Contemporary Europe, Intercultural Issues in Business and Management and Conference Interpreting. For a list of publications, please click here; for a list of funded projects, please click here.

Katerina is a Member of the Political Studies Association, the International Communications Association, the University Association of Contemporary European Studies and the Chartered Institute of Linguists. A.Strani@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @KaterinaStrani

Máiréad Nic Craith is Professor of European Culture and Heritage and she previously held a Chair in the School of Social Sciences and Applied Social Studies at the University of Ulster, as well as honorary professorships in other institutions in the UK and abroad. She has received many accolades for her publications, including the Ruth Michaelis-Jena Ratcliff research prize for folklife (joint winner), which was awarded at the University of Edinburgh in 2004. In 2009 she was elected to the Royal Irish Academy. Máiréad has served on numerous research evaluation panels in Europe, Canada and Australia. In 2011, she was invited by the United Nations as an expert on access to heritage as a human right. In 2013, she was invited by the European Centre on Minority Issues as an expert on (linguistic) minorities.

Máiréad’s research focuses on different aspects of living heritage including literary heritage (from the Great Blasket Island), intercultural heritage (Cork), World Heritage sites (Skellig Michael), heritage and conflict (Northern Ireland) and heritage and law in a European context.  For a complete list of Máiréad’s publications, please click here. M.NicCraith@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @mairead_nc

Ullrich Kockel is Professor of Cultural Ecology and Sustainability at HWU, as well as Emeritus Professor of Ethnology at the University of Ulster and Visiting Professor in Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas. He has a diverse academic and professional background, switching from a career in industrial management (Shell) to academic positions in Economics, Political Science, Sociology, and later Irish Studies and Ethnology. In 2003 he was elected to the Academy of Social Sciences and in 2012 he was elected to the Royal Irish Academy.

Ullrich’s overarching research interest is in sustainable local and regional development, especially the appraisal, planning and management of heritage and other cultural resources, approached from an interdisciplinary perspective rooted in anthropology, cultural ecology and political economy. He has conducted fieldwork and led projects throughout Europe. He is currently leading a work package in a €2.5m Horizon2020 project, CoHERE, on cultural forms and expressions of identity in Europe. For a complete list of Ullrich’s publications, please click here. U.Kockel@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @KockelU

Kerstin Pfeiffer is the Director of Undergraduate Teaching Programmes in LINCS and is a member of several committees at School and University level. She also represents the School of Social Sciences on Subject Panel B (Design, Visual Arts, Architecture, Creative Writing, Film, Drama & Theatre Studies, Cultural Policy (Policy, Arts Management & Creative Industries), Music, Television Studies) of the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities. She teaches courses in German language, history and culture at UG and PG level.

Kerstin’s research interests lie in the area of theatre and performance studies and particularly in the investigation of the afterlives of older dramatic forms and the role of drama in shaping, maintaining and challenging notions of identity and community. She has published on these topics and presented her research at many international conferences.

For a list of Kerstin’s publications, please click here. K.Pfeiffer@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @DrKPfeiffer

Cristina Clopot is Research Associate at the IRC, contributing to the Horizon2020 project, CoHERE: Critical Heritages: Performing and Representing Identities in Europe. Cristina’s work explores the intersection of heritage studies, folklore and anthropology, with a particular interest for themes such as: intangible heritage, festivals, tradition, rituals, ethnic and religious heritage. In 2014, she received the Estella Cranziani Post-Graduate Bursary for Research. Cristina is a member of the board and newsletter coordinator of the Intangible Cultural Heritage network of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies and a founding member of its new Early Career Researchers’ network. She also acts as Associate Editor (Social Media) for the Anthropological Journal of European Cultures. For a list of Cristina’s publications, please click here. C.Clopot@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @cris_clopot

Claudia V. Angelelli is Professor and Chair in Multilingualism and Communication. She is also Professor Emerita at San Diego State University and Visiting Professor at Beijing University of Foreign Studies. Her research sits at the intersection of sociolinguistics, applied linguistics and translation and interpreting studies. She designed the first empirically-driven language proficiency and interpreter readiness tests for The California Endowment and Hablamos Juntos (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation). She has been PI in research projects in Argentina, Australia, the European Union, and the United States. She has also led ISO 13611: Standards on Community Interpreting and co-authored The California Standards for Health Care Interpreters. Ethical Principles, Protocols, and Guidance on Interpreter Roles and Interventions. She teaches Intercultural Communication in the Workplace and Translation and Interpreting Studies. For a full list of publications, please click here. C.Angelelli@hw.ac.uk

John Clearyis Associate Professor and Director of Studies for Exchange Programmes. With a background in Applied Linguistics, English and TESOL, John teaches British Culture & Society, Film Studies, Introduction to Languages and Intercultural Studies, and Society and Institutions in Contemporary Europe. He has coordinated many projects on internationalisation, pedagogy and intercultural communication in Europe, Turkmenistan and South-East Asia. For a list of John’s publications, please click here. J.A.Cleary@hw.ac.uk

PhD students

Chiara Cocco Cc80@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Festivals and folklore through the lens of affect and emotions: the case study of Sant’Efisio in Sardinia, supervised by Máiréad Nic Craithand Kerstin Pfeiffer

Chiara’s research explores the relationship between cultural heritage performance and collective identity construction. Drawing upon previous studies and theories which analysed national and cultural identity construction in sites of heritage and memory (Knudsen, 2011; Arnold-de Simine, 2013; Wight, 2016), in this research the focus shifts from museums to ceremonies. The thesis suggests that dynamic heritage avenues, such as folklore and festivals, could be also considered “places” of identity construction. It also explores the dynamics of identity construction and representation in festivals, through the lens of emotion and affect (Smith, 2006).  For this purpose, the research adopts the Festival of Sant’Efisio in Sardinia as its case study, mainly because of its popularity among Sardinian population and visitors, and its longevity (it has been celebrated in the island every year since 1656). Moreover, as a Sardinian woman who has been living in Scotland for over five years, Chiara considers this festival as part of her cultural heritage and Sardinian belonging. Her research is, therefore, also a means through which she can keep connected to her original home despite the physical distance. Twitter: @ChiaraCocco88

Jos Collins – jc120@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Living Tradition and Cultural Revival: Scottish Folk Drama in the 21st Century, supervised by Kerstin Pfeiffer, Gary West, Neill Martin and Donald Smith.

Jos’s research project results from a partnership between the IRC, Celtic and Scottish Studies (University of Edinburgh) and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland (TRACS, Scottish Storytelling Centre). It examines the reasons behind the resurgence of interest in this old art form and folk custom and its cultural implications. It seeks to investigate the motivations for participants and what these can tell us about modern attitudes to concepts like tradition and authenticity. The main aim of the project is to explore the place of revived folk drama in contemporary Scottish society through the following objectives: to produce a survey of Scottish folk drama activities today; to examine community-led performances and related activities ethnographically; to evaluate the motivations and aspirations of participants and organisers and to assess their contribution to aspects of local identity, ideas of tradition, and community dynamics; to investigate how folk drama as a living practice contributes to developing conceptualisations of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Scotland; and to contribute to the newly emerging ‘Creative Ethnology’ movement led by the three institutions involved.

Naomi Harvey – neh1@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Collecting and preserving access to Intangible Cultural Heritage within the digital environment: Evaluating New Models for Scotland, supervised by Máiréad Nic Craith and Ullrich Kockel. Co-supervision from heritage specialists is provided by Alistair Bell, Sound Curator, National Library of Scotland and Scotland’s Sounds Project Manager, and Dr Hugh Hagan, National Records of Scotland, whose expertise includes oral history and community heritage.

This research is funded by the AHRC through the Scottish Cultural Heritage Consortium Scholarship, 2016-19. It critically examines issues surrounding digital preservation and access to ICH in Scotland, through the case study of Scotland’s Sounds. The project will examine how Scotland’s Sounds can ensure the sustainability of ICH sound collections, encompassing issues of: (1) collecting sound in a digital environment (2) digital access and preservation of sound material; (3) sustainable relationships between creators, community organisations and public institutions. The aim is to provide a theoretically informed critical analysis of the opportunities and challenges that advances in digital technology present for heritage organisations seeking to enhance the value, profile and understanding of ICH.  Twitter: @ArchiveGnome

Alastair Mackie – am279@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: ‘Becoming a smaller part of a larger whole: changing perceptions of European identity in the Scottish independence movement’, supervised by Katerina Strani and Ullrich Kockel.

This thesis explores how the perception and understanding of European identity has changed in Scotland since 2014. Is the adaptation of European identity for the purposes of supporting independence merely a poltiical, strategic use of collective identity, or has the debate on EU membership resulted in a wider transformation of the role of Europe in identity formation in Scotland? By means of ethnographic fieldwork, this project aims form a better understanding of the function of Europe within the identity formation of people in Scotland since the Brexit referendum. The thesis aims to link the ethnological study of European identity to concepts of vulnerability and shelter from small state studies. If Scotland were to become an independent state it would be considered a small state in Europe. Due to their size, small states have less resources than larger states, making them more vulnerable to their external environment. Small states may seek ‘shelter’ with larger states or international organisations to counteract their vulnerability. The thesis will ask how perceived vulnerability influences the formation of European identity and whether European identity offers a form of shelter by being conceptualised as a support for Scottish independence. Twitter: @asbmackie

Catherine McCullagh – cjm5@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: ‘Curating Heritage for Sustainable Communities in Highly Vulnerable Environments: The Case of Scotland’s Northern Isles’, supervised by Ullrich Kockel, Donna Heddle and Ian Tait.

Catherine is undertaking practice-based research with people in the archipelagos of Orkney and Shetland.  Her research is funded through an SGSAH ARC Studentship. The research practice is a project to co-curate a virtual museum of the Northern Isles, and is funded by Museums Galleries Scotland, the Hugh Fraser Foundation and Shetland Museum and Archives. Catherine’s interests include creative ethnology; exploring the radical politics of co-curation as a mode for communities mobilising shared authority and cultural democracy towards more socially just and sustainable futures; collaborative deliberation of value formation and social learning for sustainable development; identity-work; and developing new ways of knowing and working through praxis. For more information on Catherine’s background and research, click here. Twitter: @kittyjmac  

Michael Richardson – mr38@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Deaf people’s participation in theatre, supervised by Kerstin Pfeiffer and Svenja Wurm

Michael does research in Deaf people and the Performing Arts. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in medicine, but has also spent much of his career as a theatre practitioner, making a particular contribution to youth theatre. His book Youth Theatre, Drama for Life (Routledge) was published in 2015. His PhD thesis is exploring the participation of Deaf people in theatre. He has presented papers drawing on his research in conferences in events in Scotland, Ireland and France. For a list of Michael’s publications, please click here. Twitter: @mr38_richardson

Marc Romanomhr7@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Brexit and Heritage Futures in Scotland: The Auld Alliance – Establishing a Counter-Heritage, supervised by Katerina Strani andMáiréad Nic Craith

As one of the longest relationship in the history, the Auld Alliance challenges the recent Brexit discourse, which seeks to establish a new geography outside of Europe. In its pursuit of a separatist utopia free from bonds of European policy, Brexit offers a fictionalised geography that denies Scotland’s seven centuries of European cultural belonging. Marc’s PhD research is an exploration of the Auld Alliance as a re-reading of Scotland’s heritage discourse with a view to establishing a counter-heritage (to that which lies in the wings post-Brexit), one that establishes an identity that cannot readily disentangle itself from European culture. In a country where almost 20% of its population are in fact from foreign origin and in which 5% of the total population came from European Union, such political discourse endangers its multicultural stability. Perhaps it is reflection of why Scotland voted to remain at 63%.  

Ozge Yalinay oy30@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Interpreting Istanbul Grand Bazaar as a traditional marketplace: contemporary cultural discourse, supervised by Babak Taheri and Máiréad Nic Craith

This research is intrigued by work of cultural discourse scholars, including Foucault, Said and Bakhtin, whose theory of cultural consumption space provides with the conceptual vocabularies such as ‘orientalism’ and the ‘third space’. These spaces are unusual, anti-structured and exceptional. Framed within such notions, the material and imaginary landscape of Istanbul Bazaar offers such venue for cultural consumption experience in non-Western context. The primary aim of this study is to bring together contemporary cultural discourse in a traditional marketplace, with particular focus on the Istanbul Bazaar, testing the usefulness of such theory as an interpretive framework in a specific exceptional space in non-Western context. More specifically, this study aims to offer insight into an understanding of  Western consumers’ journey and experience, examining the dynamic process that flows from pre-visit to post-visit. The mixed-method approach is used to collect data from both visitors and locals in order to answer the aim of this study. The qualitative approach is applied using observation, netnography and interviews, while the quantitative approach is applied using questionnaires. For a list of Ozge’s publications, please click here.

By Katerina Strani

Exploring family language policy in deaf-hearing mixed families

By Jemina Napier, Annelies Kusters & Maartje De Meulder

Click here to see this blogpost in International Sign.

We are a team of three mothers and academics (two deaf and one hearing) who sign in our every day lives, including at home. In this project we pool our different academic backgrounds and collective expertise in sign language policy, multilingualism and language brokering (interpreting).

This research project looks at ‘family language policy’ (FLP), more specifically the language practices and language ideologies of bimodal multilingual deaf/hearing families against the backdrop of wider discourses. Previous research on family sign language policy has traditionally focused on hearing parents of deaf children not having prior access to sign language (who are often not fluent signers) and using different methods such as surveys and interviews. Also, previous research has mainly focused on language acquisition of deaf babies and young children.This project is different, focusing on hearing children above 2 years old, who are already bilingual or multilingual and use different signed and spoken languages, and are growing up with a mix of deaf and/or hearing parents and deaf and/or hearing grandparents.

We received funding from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland to conduct a pilot study, running from September 2018 till September 2019. The aim is to do this pilot study with a view to leading to a larger study, to explore research methods and themes before final commitment to the research design. We decided to do the pilot study in our own families because in each family, deafness and sign languages are distributed differently as seen in the Figure below (deaf people in grey, hearing in white), and we each use multiple languages and modalities within our mixed deaf-hearing families across different generations.

Family 1: Jemina and her partner and daughter are all hearing, but the four grandparents are deaf. In Family 2: Annelies and her partner are both deaf, her partner’s parents are deaf, and her parents and her two children are hearing. Family 3: Maartje is deaf, her partner is hearing and their children are hearing. All grandparents are also hearing. Family 1 and 2 live in Scotland, UK and Family 3 lives in Flanders, Belgium. Deafness is actually more widely distributed in all three extended families (eg. siblings,aunts, cousins) but since the scope of this study is limited, we choose to focus on children-parents-grandparents units, and we aim to include wider social networks including other family members and friends in a future study.All families use one or more sign languages in the space of the home. In total there are four spoken languages and four sign languages in use: English, Dutch,German, Marathi, British Sign Language (BSL), Indian Sign Language (ISL),Flemish Sign Language (VGT) and International Sign (IS). While the deaf and hearing children and parents in the study are all fluent signers, the grandparents involved in the study have various signing abilities.

Family language policy is intimate and we already have a deep understanding of our family dynamics and contexts. This means we don’t need a long period of immersion first, and are not “strange” researchers coming into families. We are making ethnographic video recordings in our family interactions (see examples below), mostly at mealtimes and at story time, in different contexts such as everyday contexts in the home, or when grandparents visit. In a later stage of the project (April-June 2019) we will include language biographies of the families (and diary extracts on earlier language choice decisions) and interviews to elicit explicit language ideologies (researchers will interview each other, and each other’s relatives).We also will use visual methods such as children’s drawings and language portraits.

While we have the support of three research assistants, each of us is initially annotating their own family interactional data in ELAN annotation software because of the intimacy of FLP and the high context involved (it is often very hard for outsiders to understand signed family communication). One of the researchers’ partners (Annelies’ partner, Sujit Sahasrabudhe) is also involved in annotating data recorded in their own family. The data are checked by two hearing research assistants who annotate when voice is used (normal, loud, or as a whisper) or annotate speech. In the analysis we focus on which languages/modalities are used in which contexts, and on switches between (and combining) languages and language modalities.

We can share a few findings so far based on our preliminary analysis of data:

  • FLP is much more complex than using X different signed/spoken languages at home. Real data are “messy”. There are few clean “switches” with person X always using language/modality Y, and the relationship between person X and language/modality Y is not binary.
  • One of the other interesting things we have noticed is the relationship between eye gaze and sensory differences and the impact on choice of modality (whether someone chooses to use their voice or not). For example, who they are looking at, whether they are deaf or hearing, and how that influences the way they decide to communicate. It is also striking how much signing is accessed from peripheral vision (eg when telling stories) rather than through direct eye contact.
  • We noted how important and frequent touch is in family language communication, more so than is the case in general in sign language communication between deaf and hearing sighted signers. For example, people sign on each other’s body (such as making a sign on a small child’s body or face), touch a small child’s throat (in combination with lip reading) to try to decipher what the child is saying, touch the throat of a hearing child who is singing or humming a song to feel the rhythm. Another example is a mother who’s in conversation with someone when their child asks for attention, holding and rubbing their child’s hand in order to let them know that they are aware the child wants attention and asking them to wait for a bit.

It is clear that we have an extremely rich data set, so we are looking forward to exploring it further. So watch this space,and we will provide a further update further on in the project. But if you would like any further information, please feel free to contact any of us.

*This blog post was first published on Maartje De Meulder’s website on 5th December 2018: https://maartjedemeulder.be/2018/12/05/exploring-family-language-policy-in-deaf-hearing-mixed-families/

Sign language researchers talk research!

By Jemina Napier

Click here to see a version of this blogpost in British Sign Language (BSL).

While I am on research sabbatical from Heriot-Watt University I am fortunate to be spending my time as a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh (see here for overview of what I am working on).

As part of my fellowship I have been able to avail of IASH facilities to organize a workshop with a leading scholar in the field of Deaf Studies, Dr Annelies Kusters, to bring together a small group of researchers who work with sign language data. The 2-day workshop took place on 25-26 October 2018 and was by invitation only. Our priority was to invite deaf and hearing researchers that are fluent British Sign Language (BSL) users, and who are currently grappling with issues either to do with the analysis of qualitative sign language data, or are exploring new and innovative qualitative research methods. One of the reasons we wanted to ensure that everyone is a fluent BSL user is because we wanted to avoid holding discussions through interpreters, to allow for more in-depth and organic discussions. And this certainly worked!

The majority of the 12 attendees were my colleagues and PhD students from the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University, but we also had several attendees from other UK universities and also one Finnish university.

The first day (Thursday) was dedicated to the discussion of different approaches to data analysis, and the second day (Friday) was devoted to methodologies. Each participant was asked to give a 15-minute presentation about their topic and we built in plenty of time for discussion. The projects being conducted by the group range from experiences of deaf people seeking asylum in Finland, documentation of Indonesian Sign Language, explorations of professional and labour migration among deaf sign language users, family sign language policy, deaf tourism in Bali, video remote sign language interpreting in police settings, different perceptions of sign language interpreting, and experiences of deaf business owners, deaf professionals and deaf parents in social work contexts. As you would expect, such a range of projects calls for a range of approaches to data analysis and methodologies. Over the two days the following key issues were discussed:

  • How and whether to anonymise video data
  • Whether to directly code from sign language data or translate and code from written (representative) texts – and if so what and how to translate
  • Use of different software for coding (such as ELAN, Atlas.ti or N-Vivo)
  • Processes for deciding what and how to code
  • How to code observational fieldnotes, and saturation of observational data
  • Thematic coding as an organic or planned process
  • Using visual methods for data collection and analysis – eco-maps, photos, film-making, social media networking sites
  • Data coding fatigue
  • Benefits of documenting analytical decisions as part of the research process
  • Value of having conversations with others about coding/ annotation/ analytical processes
  • Challenges of how and what to code
  • Power dynamics in interviewing participants
  • Positionality and the observer’s paradox
  • Reflexivity in planning, reviewing data collection and data analysis
  • Ethics of recruiting and interviewing disadvantaged people, and methods for gaining consent
  • Building rapport and trust with research participants
  • How to create semi-authentic simulations of sign language (interpreted) interactions
  • Interviewing directly or through interpreters
  • Methods for taking fieldnotes

This exploratory workshop was a huge success, so we hope to make it an annual event, and open it up to other sign language researchers. Many of the issues we dissected are not unique to sign language researchers by any means, but being able to come together and have the space to have open and frank conversations about our work in sign language was a rare and much valued opportunity. We are considering a proposal for an edited volume based on the format of this workshop, so hopefully that will be a book that we can add to the IASH library one day!

 

This blogpost was first posted on the IASH website on 6th November 2018: http://www.iash.ed.ac.uk/news/sign-language-researchers-talk-research

 

A visit from Brussels

LINCS had the pleasure of welcoming back Cathy Pearson this September, following her visit in May during the CIUTI conference. This time, Cathy was visiting the department with her SCIC trainer cap on, as our application for pedagogical assistance from the EU Directorate General for Interpretation (also known as “SCIC”) was successful. 

The European Union is the largest employer in the world for conference interpreters, and DGI SCIC has a long-standing commitment to cooperating with top conference interpreting training universities across Europe and beyond through a range of initiatives. 

Pedagogical Assistance is one of them, and as such, DGI SCIC send EU professional interpreters and trainers like Cathy to partner universities in order to support the training of students at different stages. Cathy is an experienced conference interpreter and trainer, who has worked across the EU and the world for the English booth, interpreting for prestigious EU summits or supporting training programmes in many conference interpreting higher institutions. 

As our MSc students are, for the most part, just starting to acquire the core skills they need to become interpreters, the focus of this visit has been on note-taking for interpreting purposes. Cathy delivered a masterclass, which was also open to our M.A. students returning from their year abroad, and keen to revisit the training they already had in 2nd year for this essential skill.  

Note-taking may sound like something all students should have mastered by their final year, but in fact, the type of notes interpreters take is completely different from what you would use during a lecture. Interpreters must develop excellent instant analytical skills and only use notes to prompt their short-term memory, as their attention has to be on active listening. Therefore, they need to develop a quick, efficient and sparing note-taking system they can rely on to faithfully re-do the speech they heard in a given language. The masterclass included demonstrations and practical exercises, which were explored further in workshops with MSc students. 

To complement this intensive practice, Cathy also gave a very insightful and focused talk on the pathway to become an EU interpreter (facebook live video available on the LINCS page). In this session, she highlighted what students should focus on to achieve their professional goal, stressing that they must, first and foremost, have a perfect command of their mother-tongue, since it is the language into which an interpreter would work the most. She also provided detailed information on the recruitment process and language combinations sought after by the EU at the moment, and showed the excellent resources developed by the EU for trainees and applicants who have been invited to take the pre-selection and accreditation test. This was a particular point of interest to alumni currently going through this recruitment process. 

But Cathy’s visit is only the starting point of our programme of training initiatives in partnership with SCIC this year: students will also be able to benefit from further guidance from EU interpreter through virtual classes, with the first of these sessions taking place at the start of October. 

For more information on our MA programmes in conference interpreting, click here.  To find out about our MSc conference interpreting programmes, click here 

LINCS post-graduate researchers hold first symposium

 

Wednesday 25th April was the occasion of the first LINCS PGR Symposium.  Over the course of the day, nine post-graduates presented papers to an audience of their peers, lecturers and professors from within the department.  Reactions were universally positive, succinctly summarised by this tweet by @HW_LifeinLINCS:

Incredibly insightful and thought-provoking presentations.

Contributors ranged from those who had only recently started their PhD journey, to two who are busy writing up their theses with a view to submitting the finished works at the end of the summer.  Research interests were grouped in four panels:  translation, language and identity, sign language interpreting, and spoken language interpreting.  Sites of research ranged from the Heriot-Watt University classroom to Faroese fish-processing factories, by way of theatres and mental health clinics, court-rooms and police custody suites, Google translate and the Galician community in London.

The papers delivered on the day were as follows:

Paola Ruffo: Literary Translators’ perceptions of their role and attitudes towards technology in contemporary society

Nga-Ki Mavis Ho: Academic translation from English into Chinese: Increasing awareness and handling of academic rhetoric by the introduction of the Graduation system

Elisabeth Holm: New Speakers of Faroese and the Sociolinguistics of Labour Market Access and Participation

Michael Richardson: Deaf and hearing theatre – creating an intercultural third space

Alex Dayan- Fernandez: Reinventing transnational networks: Contemporary language activism, linguistic ideologies, and cultural identity (re)constructions of the Galician diaspora in London

Emmy Kauling: “He’s a professional *something*” – Co-constructing professional identities through interpreted professional discourse.

Christopher Tester: Perceptions of the Role and Function of Deaf Interpreters Working in the Court of Law

Rob Skinner: Ap-proximately there:  Video-mediated interpreting services at Police Scotland

Natalia Rodríguez Vincente: Rapport management in interpreter-mediated mental healthcare encounters: a shared responsibility?

Inevitably you can find more information about all these papers on Twitter – post-graduates can be active tweeters!  Look for #HWPGRsymp18.

The value of the day lay not only in the opportunity for students to present their papers, but also in the responses those papers stimulated.  Each presentation was followed by lively questioning and debate and the day was notable for the supportive and collaborative atmosphere created by all the participants.  Post-graduates were inspired to think about new aspects of their work, and everybody developed greater insight into the breadth of interesting research that is being carried out across the department.  Importantly, we were able to make links between individual research projects that will lead to further discussion where interests or methods overlap.

In summary, the PGR Symposium was an important and successful experience for all involved.  There have already been calls for it to become a regular feature of the LINCS calendar, perhaps twice a year, to ensure all PGRs have a chance to present their work in the safe environment that the symposium offers.  Personally, I hope not to be here for the next one (I’m one of those working towards submission of my thesis in a few months), but I very much look forward to seeing my own Twitter feed filled by photographs and summaries of the research undertaken by future cohorts of LINCS PGRs.

Michael Richardson

LINCS PGR Representative

Studying languages : wise or unwise ?

by Fanny Chouc

Conflicting information has recently been released in the press over the career benefits of studying languages, with the Telegraph grabbing headings with a bold statement according to which “Languages graduates are now the least employable in Britain”, according to an ONS survey, while the BBC published data from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which place language graduates above medicine, business and law graduates in terms of earnings. The CBI’s reports on employment skills sought after by employers have also repeatedly stressed the importance and benefits of languages in terms of employability, highlighting that despite the looming prospect of Brexit, “there can be great advantages for British businesses if employees can communicate with at least reasonable proficiency in the language of clients, customers and suppliers”. According to the same study, EU languages are still very much in demand: businesses surveyed have stressed the need for “French (50%), German (47%) and Spanish (30%)”, showing clearly that linguistic skills remain prevalent, not to mention the communication skills and intercultural awareness that goes hand-in-hand with the study of languages.

So who to trust? Should you still consider that language degree, or is it a waste of time and money? Worthy question, particularly relevant in England and Wales when you consider the financial cost of higher education studies. When you are considering paying up to £9,250 a year in tuition fees (caped amount for undergraduate degrees in England), of course, employability becomes a significant factor in your choice of studies.

Part of the answer could possibly be found in the type of studies linguists choose, if we consider the case of Heriot-Watt University graduates: the Languages and Intercultural Studies department (known as LINCS) offers degrees with a very clear professional focus. In keeping with the ethos of Heriot-Watt University, students who come to do a degree in languages … don’t actually do a degree in languages! They do degrees in translation, in interpreting, or focus on an applied use of languages for business. So languages are considered as a field of expertise studied for specific, applied purposes, and students get to grips with very professional uses of the language: how to handle interpreting in a business meeting, how to prepare to interpret simultaneously at an international conference, how to master key CAT (computer-aided translation) tools … and rather than the more traditional and philological approach still noted in more traditional language degrees, Heriot-Watt LINCS students don’t study literature: they focus on developing their understanding and knowledge of modern-day Spain, France, Germany, China, etc … They learn about the way institutions work, what education systems are like in each countries, how politics currently stand in each area, and they study international organisations, business strategies and cultural-specific approaches to corporate management.

Another key aspect of LINCS training is the connection with the industry, another crucial element stressed by the CBI in their report. LINCS works closely with Heriot-Watt University’s Career Services, running regular and innovative information sessions with inspirational speakers from around the world who studied on the degree programmes offered by the department, sometimes using e-communication tools to ensure that students get a chance to speak to talented professionals living and working in distant locations. Students also have access to mentoring schemes, career fairs and tailored support; they receive guidance and advice throughout their studies, and they’re all included in a LINCS-specific mailing list designed to flag internship, volunteering and paid work opportunities.

Does this work? Yes, undoubtedly: based on latest destination survey, LINCS graduates from Heriot-Watt have a very high employability rate. 96% of them were either in employment or further education 6 months after they graduated. It is also very interesting to note that these graduate-attribute focused degrees also open doors in many unsuspected fields: LINCS graduates go into translation and interpreting, of course. They secure positions in big international companies, yes. But some also secure positions in banking, in the film industry, in policy-making organisations, in the media, in accountancy …

So don’t be fooled by headlines: a focused, applied language degree is still very relevant. It will give you a very versatile and highly employable profile, and it could make you richer than a lawyer!

 

Sources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2017/11/24/languages-graduates-now-least-employable-britain-new-figures/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2017/11/24/languages-graduates-now-least-employable-britain-new-figures/

http://www.cbi.org.uk/index.cfm/_api/render/file/?method=inline&fileID=DB1A9FE5-5459-4AA2-8B44798DD5B15E77

http://www.cbi.org.uk/cbi-prod/assets/File/pdf/cbi-education-and-skills-survey2016.pdf

 

Call for papers CIUTI 2018 ! Translation and interpreting in an era of demographic and technological change

 

The Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies in Scotland (CTISS) at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh is delighted to announce an international conference on Translation and interpreting in an era of demographic and technological change, to be held in Edinburgh on 30 and 31 May 2018.

Open to all, the conference immediately follows the members-only General Assembly of CIUTI (Conférence Internationale Permanente d’Instituts Universitaires de Traducteurs et Interprètes) and is intended to create a common space for reflection on translation and interpreting issues. The conference language is English.

Key dates
• Abstract submission deadline: 31 January 2018
• Notification of acceptance: 28 February 2018
• Registration open: 28 February 2018
• Early-bird registration available until: 31 March 2018

Aim and scope
The digital era, characterized by technology which increases the speed and breadth of knowledge turnover within the economy and society, now embraces every aspect of our lives. The impact of new technologies is changing the very nature of language and communication, causing adjustment in every aspect of who says what, to whom, how, why, and with what effect. These developments interact in increasingly complex, pivotal and pervasive ways with demographic shifts, caused by war, economic globalisation, changing social structures and patterns of mobility, environmental crises, and other factors. Translators and interpreters attempt to keep up with these shifts. This conference is designed to reflect upon the innovations in research, practice and training that are associated with this turbulent landscape.

Topics
We invite papers related but not limited to the following translation and interpreting (T&I) areas:
• T&I in the digital economy
• T&I and new technologies
• Accessibility issues in T&I (e.g. data sharing, maintenance, copyright)
• New methodologies in T&I
• Multimodality in T&I
• T&I and the media
• T&I and literature
• T&I in the public sector
• T&I in politics and law
• Ethics, equality and diversity in T&I
• T&I in education

Submissions are invited for 20-minute presentations. Abstracts should be no more than 400 words (excluding references) and clearly state research questions, approach, method, data and (expected) results. Please submit your abstract as a file attachment including the title of the paper, author name, affiliation and e-mail address to CIUTIconference2018@hw.ac.uk. The subject header of the submission email should read: Abstract CIUTI.

Further details will soon be available via http://www.ctiss.hw.ac.uk/research/conferences1.html 

Location: Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the home of the Scottish Parliament and well served by international communication and transport links. The University was established in 1821 as the world’s first mechanics’ institute, with its Royal Charter granted in 1966). It is ranked among the World’s top 500 and the UK’s top 30 universities. The Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies in Scotland (CTISS) is internationally renowned for the calibre of its research which has been developed over more than 40 years. Bringing together research expertise across disciplines in translation studies, interpreting and applied language studies, the Centre’s work – building a diverse and coherent body of knowledge which seeks to address socially-relevant issues – informs the thinking of government, industry and public bodies around the world.

Another virtual class with DG SCIC !

by Fanny Chouc

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LINCS held a virtual class in cooperation with the Directorate General for Interpretation on Friday 17th November. This EU institution, familiarly known as SCIC, runs all the interpreting services of the EU Commission, and cooperates with universities which specialize in conference interpreting. LINCS managed to secure this prestigious type of cooperation for the 2nd year running, following a first virtual class held last June with the previous Honours and MSc cohorts.

Fernando Leitão, Head of the E-learning sector for SCIC, explained to the 19 UG and PG students present that the “main purpose [of a virtual class] is to supplement guidance you are getting from your teachers”.

This virtual class was also a first, as the Brussels-based SCIC team was joined by a team of interpreters from the European Court of Justice, based in Luxembourg. Thanks to the support of Heriot-Watt’s AV team, a three-way connection was set up via Polycom. As a result, students based in Edinburgh were able to attend a virtual class jointly run from two other European cities, and two different EU institutions, thus enjoying a truly international class.

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Students were equally delighted and daunted to have an opportunity to try their consecutive interpreting skills on speeches delivered by EU interpreters. Topics were sent a couple of days in advance by the coordinator for this virtual class, Clara Baruffati (herself a graduated from our MSc in conference interpreting, currently doing a stage with SCIC), and students were able to research topics such as the butter crisis in France, the impact of technologies on paper-books, and how nuclear science can tackle disease-spreading insects. While our Honours year students started learning note-taking skills and practicing consecutive interpreting during their second year, MSc students only started to acquire this set of very specific skills a couple of months ago, so tackling speeches 5 to 8 minutes long presented a real test of their abilities.

But despite the pressure of working with such prestigious teachers, who are such inspirational role models for aspiring conference interpreters, students dealt with the tasks well, receiving comments such as “impressive performance” in some cases.

So what advice did they take on board from the experience?

Firstly, “you’ve got to be prepared to roll with everything”, according to Kevin McCarthy, EU interpreter and trainer from the English language unit.

Secondly, work on communication skills and confidence: “your credibility is everything”, so mastering signs of stress is crucial, as are communication skills.

Students were also encouraged to pay special attention to the coherence of the speech, and to ensure that they use the opportunity to ask a few questions to elicit every crucial piece of information from the speakers.

This very thorough session, during which students received not only specific feedback on their performances, but also valuable professional advice, left students rearing for more similar challenges, and determined to take all the advice on board to practise and progress further.

Eilidh MacLaghlan, one of the Honours students selected to deliver a Spanish consecutive, said: “The SCIC virtual class was an exciting and unique opportunity to receive feedback from professionals in the industry we wish to enter following our studies. The advice and pointers we were given from interpreters at the European Commission and the European Court of Justice will be hugely beneficial as we progress through our degree course, and into our professional life.”

This session was also welcomed by LINCS staff coordinators, Fanny Chouc and José Maria Conde: “students greatly benefit from getting feedback from such inspiring interpreters and trainers; it’s also good for them to hear the type of advice they get in class from EU experts, as it enables them to relate more clearly what they are doing in class with the professional world.”

Following this exciting experience, students are hoping to get further opportunities to receive guidance from EU interpreters, and they are also looking forward to the coming – award-winning- annual multilingual debate, which will take place on March 21st. On that occasion, they will be applying their simultaneous interpreting skills to facilitate debates between the members of a multilingual panel, an audience of over 400 in the James Watt Conference Centre, and a wider online audience, since the two debates of the day will be streaming live online.

Follow us on Twitter @HW_LifeinLINCS and @heriotwatt_soss for updates on #MLD2018.

LINCS does music

New project on BSL Syntax !

Our newest BSL team member Dr Jordan Fenlon has been successful in securing an AHRC grant as a Co-Investigator on a project on BSL syntax.
The project aims to document and describe word order and non-manual features in different types of British Sign Language sentences. The project team includes Principal Investigator Kearsy Cormier (University College London) and Co-Investigators Adam Schembri (University of Birmingham) and our own Jordan Fenlon.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK, the project will run for 3 years from December 2016.
Watch this space for updates on this and other projects in LINCS !