Moving Languages project finished!

by Katerina Strani

We are very pleased to announce that our EU-funded Moving Languages project has now come to an end! The 27-month project (2016-2018), led by Learnmera Oy in Finland with LINCS at Heriot-Watt as a partner, developed a free mobile application designed to help new migrants learn the host language(s) and familiarise themselves with culture-specific vocabulary and concepts. A user-friendly, versatile and comprehensive app, it also aims to encourage people to learn other languages and promote understanding between cultures.

The Moving Languages app provides a gamified language- and culture-learning tool. It contains 4000+ illustrated vocabulary items for easy concept recognition, grammar exercises, flashcards, reading comprehension, listening comprehension, culture, administration, health and immigration tabs, dialogues with audio, audio spelling and comprehension tests and many other features. The app covers topics that are essential during the first steps of living in the host country. 

Users can learn English, Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, Finnish (main languages) from 20 support languages widely spoken by refugees/migrants in partner countries:

Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Estonian, French, Hungarian, Kurdish (Sorani), Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Somali, Tigrinya, Turkish, Ukranian, and Urdu

They can also use the main languages as support languages if they wishes. This means that if you download the English app, you can learn English from 25 languages in total.

 

We launched the app at an event held in June 2018 and held our final meeting in Bilbao on 4th October 2018 to finalise the app and the project. It has been a pleasure to work with our international partners in this project and to engage with users who have tried our app.

The project may have ended, but our apps will be available for free for the next 3 years, so please download them, try them, and send us your feedback!

You can download the English app here:

iOS https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/moving-languages-uk/id1389806713?mt=8

Android https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ml.english

To download the Spanish, German, Italian, Finnish and Swedish language apps, please click here.

For a step-by-step guide on how to use the app, please click here

For more information, contact the UK coordinator, Dr Katerina Strani A.Strani@hw.ac.uk or the project coordinator Veronica Gelfgren Veronica@learnmera.com

Website: http://www.movinglanguages.eu/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/movinglanguages/

LinkedIN: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8580234

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/movinglanguages/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MovLanguages

Sign language interpreting in employment settings: Dissemination and training DESIGNS project update October 2018

By Audrey Cameron & Jemina Napier

Link to version in BSL to be embedded in the website: https://youtu.be/8hJKNgOVbjc

In this blogpost, Jemina Napier and Audrey Cameron provide an update on the work that has been done on the DESIGNS project (promoting access in employment for deaf people) since our last blog/vlog in May 2018.

 

The past 5 months, work has focused on analysis of the interview data and writing the project report for the European Commission and also disseminating the project data:

  1. Facebook livestream event in June 2018 with 1,800 viewers
  2. efsli conference in Croatia in September 2018 – where the theme was Interpreters working in employment”.
  3. Association of Sign Language Interpreters (ASLI)’s webinar in September 2018

 

We are now working on developing training materials for employers and sign language interpreters working with deaf people.  There will be two workshops, one in November and another in December:

  1.  Employers’ workshop in partnership with Vercida
  2. Sign language interpreters’ workshop in partnership with Deaf Action

The next update is due in the New Year.

Below is an English translation of the update that was presented in BSL.

Audrey:  We just wanted to update you about some of the exciting work we have been doing on the DESIGNS project over the past 5 months.  We have both been busy attending events and letting people know about the project.  The report for the European Commission is almost completed and then, after it has formally been presented to them, it will be made available for people to look at.

Jemina:  Do you remember back in May, Audrey and I were talking about some of the things we had planned?  Well, one of those was a Facebook livestream event, which we did the following month, with Mette Sommer, and Emmy Kauling; Audrey and I talked about the research we are doing here as part of the DESIGNS project and the other two explained about the research they were doing which is about also about deaf people and employment. Amazingly, we got 1,800 views, with people either watching it live, or afterwards when it had been uploaded.  So, if you haven’t yet seen it and you’re interested, go to Heriot Watt ‘Life in LINCS’ Facebook page and you’ll see the uploaded video there… wow, when I think about it, one thousand eight hundred views, that’s a lot!

Audrey:  I do think that livestreaming is a good way of connecting with the Deaf community and keeping people informed.  Whereas in the past, we would need a room and invite people along, this way we can let everybody throughout the whole of the UK know what is going on all at the same time.  The other advantage with livestreaming are the questions that people post, which we were then able to respond live and in real time.

Jemina:  That’s right, people typed in their comments and they would then pop up – we relayed their questions to everyone in BSL and were able to respond; it is really interactive.

Audrey:  What was also good about it was that we had our PowerPoint slides displayed behind us, so that people watching could see the information we were referring to, so hopefully we will line up a few more of those in the coming months.

After the live stream event I went to Croatia for the Efsli (the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters) conference in Dubrovnik – where the theme was ‘Interpreters working in Employment’ which is obviously the focus of the DESIGNS project.  I went to represent the team here in the UK and my colleagues from both Germany and Ireland were also there, along with 300 delegates, most of whom were interpreters from all over Europe.  It was fascinating – at the very start of the conference we all took our seats and then the question was asked ‘Who here is from England?’ and they would stand up and everyone would wave. There were loads of different countries represented, I’d say about 30, not just in Europe but from around the world, from Australia, America, Canada, Mexico… it was great for us being able to present the data from this project to so many people; for some it was probably something to bear in mind if they’re looking to improve things in back in their own countries; for others it might have been a reminder that they’d had similar experiences in the past.

Jemina:  You gave a presentation at the conference…

Audrey:  … yes, along with Christian Rathmann. We had about half an hour to talk about the project.  There was one presentation by two designated interpreters from Austria working with a deaf pharmacist.  They talked about what it was like – that was good.

What else? This year was the first time they had interpreters from Russia at the conference – there was a booth at the back of the room with an interpreter plugged in with a head mic working into Russian, so that was something a bit different.  The presentation from Russia was amazing. They showed a film of all these factories in Russia which have many deaf people working in them and who then all live nearby.  There were also photos and apparently, the ratio of interpreters to deaf people is one in fifty. The conference was good and over the two days, there were many references made to deaf employment.

Jemina:  After the conference and all those presentations, I recently delivered a training webinar for ASLI, the interpreting association here in the UK.  I gave a presentation and facilitated a discussion online and I think we had about 40 participants watching.  I explained to them all about the DESIGNS project and picked out some themes from a Europe-wide perspective. Then we focussed in on the UK and I explained how we’d interviewed deaf people, employers and interpreters, so I was talking to them about BSL interpreters and what we’d found here in the UK.  It was interesting – there were lots of questions; they were looking for any tips we might have that could help improve things, because they are all too aware of the barriers.  Whilst the government makes money available via ATW that does not mean that interpreters are automatically provided and everything goes smoothly, so it was interesting to have that discussion with them, and the feedback from the session was good as well.

Audrey: … and that’s why we’re looking to arrange further training sessions like that including a session in November for employers, because of them don’t know how to recruit deaf people or how to work with interpreters. We are doing that in partnership with Vercida…

Jemina: … Yes, they provide a platform to support employers to recruit disabled people across the board; they have really supported us a lot with this project, helping us to make contact with employers.

Audrey:  We are also going to work in with them to set the training for employers and when we have something, we feel works well, we will make it available online and then it will be shared with everyone…

Jemina: … that will act as a pilot. Then we will be doing training for interpreters here in Scotland in partnership with Deaf Action in Edinburgh, where they have an employment service and an interpreting service.  The training will be more practical, as opposed to the Asli webinar, which had more of a presentational style, sharing the data and the findings and etc. This will be much more ‘hands on’ for working interpreters.  We are hoping to have about 20 interpreters at the session in December.

Audrey:   We will be taking all the data we have gathered from the interviews we have conducted and sharing that with employers and interpreters.

Our next whole team project meeting is in Antwerp in Belgium in December where we will be discussing next steps.

Jemina:  Plus as a project team we’ll delivering training in partnership with efsli for interpreters from all over Europe and those who train interpreters; that will build on what we’ve done so far and we’ll do that while we’re there in Antwerp. Then a week later, we will both be delivering training here in the UK.

So that’s pretty much everything we are doing…

Audrey:  I am looking forward to it. The training is important if we are to start removing the barriers that deaf people face trying to find employment and it is why we are setting that up for employers and interpreters. The training for deaf people will be starting next year, isn’t that right?

Jemina:  Yes, exciting times, so keep an eye out for further updates!

 

*Thanks to Ramon Woolfe for sharing his photos taken at the efsli event.

On audio-recorded presentations, Australian accents, and translated deaf selves

By: Annelies Kusters and Jemina Napier

International Sign version: https://vimeo.com/289892708

This blogpost was originally posted on the Mobile Deaf website on Friday 14th September 2018. See: http://mobiledeaf.org.uk/on-audio/

Annelies:

What do people think when they see a signing person on stage, and hear a simultaneous interpretation?

On Thursday 6 September, I gave a keynote presentation at BAAL titled “Sign multilingual and translingual practices and ideologies”. It was the first presentation of the conference and a number of people tweeted. One of the tweets read:

I wasn’t using a pre-recorded audio-file from which I was interpreting myself. I am a deaf scholar. I presented in British Sign Language and was interpreted into spoken English by Jemina Napier. This is the typical practice for deaf academics presenting at conferences.

My deaf colleagues, the team of interpreters and I initially laughed at the misunderstanding, and the Tweeter also realised his mistake quickly, writing:

However, rather than just waving it away as the umpteenth ignorant comment about deaf people, another funny anecdote to share with my friends, this also made me think. I am in a pivotal moment in my academic career in that I’m becoming more visible. Did it even occur to the Tweeter that I was deaf, and that me signing my presentation in British Sign Language was not an attempt at being innovative but simply the best option at hand (sic) for me? In other words: why not assume immediately that this signing person on stage in a mainstream conference is most probably deaf? Do people not think that deaf people can be academics who can get invited as keynote presenters in this kind of conferences?

Example two. During one of the breaks at the same BAAL conference, another scholar from another British university approached me. He said he had seen me on the screen: the hall where the keynote happened was full and he was watching the livestream in another room. Apparently he initially thought I was speaking and signing at the same time, and was puzzled about my Australian accent. Only later, he realised that I was working with an interpreter (and if I would have an accent in English, a language I do write but not speak, it would certainly not sound Australian!).

Example three. After another applied linguistics conference where I gave a keynote earlier this year, the TLANG closing event, someone wrote about my keynote presentation “Her keynote was an especially engaging end to the day as it was impressively and seamlessly presented in both sign language and spoken English.“ (https://channelviewpublications.wordpress.com/2018/04/04/communication-in-the-multilingual-city-the-tlang-conference/)

At that conference, I was interpreted into English by Christopher Stone. A simultaneous interpretation is not a simultaneous presentation1.

Example four. I taught in a summer school in Denmark a few years ago. I was teaching in International Sign and two interpreters were interpreting into spoken English. Several students thought that the interpreters were the teachers, and that I was the interpreter. And this was on (already) day three of the five day summer school. Go figure.

DESIGNS project update May 2018: Access in employment for in deaf people

By Audrey Cameron & Jemina Napier

 

In this blogpost Audrey Cameron and Jemina Napier provide an update on the work that’s been done on the DESIGNS Project (promoting access in employment for deaf people) since our last blog/vlog post in  December 2017.

Interviews with interpreters working in employment settings and employers have now been completed and analysis of the data has begun. We will be presenting some of the early findings at the next DESIGNS community information event in Berlin in June. On the 14th June, from 6:30pm, we’ll be live streaming another information sharing event via Facebook with presentations from Audrey Cameron, Jemina Napier and PhD students Emmy Kauling and Mette Sommer.

We are grateful to Vercida and to members of the DESIGNS project advisory group for helping us identify employers willing to participate in the research and our thanks also go to those employers who agreed to be interviewed about their experiences of working with deaf sign language users.

We would also like to extend our gratitude to all those who have given up their time to contribute to the project.

The DESIGNS project runs until June 2019 – the next update is due after the summer.

Below is a transcript of the update in BSL.

 

Jemina: We’re here today to give you a bit of an update on the work the two of us have been doing on the DESIGNS Project since December – was it December?

Audrey: … before Christmas, yes…

Jemina: … so we want to tell you what we’ve been doing over the past 4…?

Audrey: … I think it’s been 5…

Jemina: … 5 months.

Audrey: Well, the time has really flown by since it all started over 6 months ago.

So let me update you on a few things. As mentioned in a previous blogpost, we’ve been interviewing people from three different groups – deaf people, interpreters and employers. Well that’s now been done and we’ve collected some amazing data – it’s good isn’t it, Jemina?

Jemina: Yes – there’s a lot of it!

Audrey: The next thing is to do the analysis and start identifying the key themes – whether they’re the same amongst all three groups, what the difficulties or positives have been; what the differences might be, so that’s what we’re working on at the moment.

Jemina: We will be giving you more information about what we’ve found as we go on and at the end of this Vlog we’ll be telling you about one way you can find out more about those findings!

Audrey: Yes!

We want to thank both our Advisory Group and Vercida for helping us to identify employers who were willing to be interviewed for the project – without them it would have been difficult for us to find them and ask about their experiences, so again thanks to them.

Jemina: Yes… we’ve also had an Advisory Group meeting, do you want to talk about that?

Audrey: Last January we had a meeting with, was it 6 Members of the advisory group? It felt a bit strange, we had the meeting online so they all appeared in boxes on the screen and we were signing to one another via Skype, but it worked well and we have another meeting like that in June. The Advisory Group members are from all over the UK, which why we have to use Skype, but like I say, it was good meeting.

Jemina: The Advisory Group members all have experience of working with deaf people in employment or working in an advisory capacity with disabled people in employment and we specifically invited them on to the group to help us get a UK wide perspective.

Audrey: Yes and that’s been really good.

Jemina: As part of this project we arrange regular Community Information Events to let people know what’s happening in the project and to explain what’s involved. That’s really important, especially for the Deaf Community but anyone who’s interested, is welcome to come along. So far last year we had two of these – the very first one was in Dublin; the second was here in Edinburgh at Heriot Watt University, that was June last year, and then last January we had one in Bruges in Belgium. The fourth will be in Berlin when the whole project team will come together and we’ll have another community information event which usually includes presentations about what’s going on in the project plus a number of other things. You can still see last year’s event in Edinburgh – it was live streamed and recorded, so if you want to go back you can take a look at it. We also did something in Edinburgh at Deaf Action and thank you to them for hosting that. We had staff there from HW and PhD students who gave presentations about their research topics. Our fourth year students got an opportunity to practise their interpreting skills – they’re in their final year and nearly at the end of the course, so they got in some practise – Audrey, you gave a presentation about the DESIGNS Project.

Audrey: It was good – members of the deaf community were asking questions and will be keen to know more once we’ve finished the project – so that’s exciting.

Jemina: So what’s the plan for the next few months?

Audrey: Next it’s Liverpool for the Deaf Business Academy awards event where I’ve been invited to deliver a presentation about this project and as part that there’s an award ceremony for the best businesses – I’m looking forward to that, so that’s Liverpool in June. Then in September there’s the EFSLI (European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters) conference and I’ll be presenting along with our other partners in the project from Germany and Ireland, so that’ll be good. We’re also doing an ASLI webinar where Jemina will be presenting online to interpreters – that’s in September and we’ll let you know more about that nearer the time.

Jemina: Oh, and one exciting thing to mention that we’ve got planned, is for this June on the 14th, we’ll be having a live streamed Community Information Event. It’ll be here but we’ve decided, rather than have people come to us, we’ll live stream it so that’ll give people from around the UK more of an opportunity to see it. It’s on the 14th June at 6:30pm in the evening. There’s already a Facebook Event/invitation page so you can click on that to let us know if you want to join in. We’ll be live streaming via Facebook with four presenters, the two of us will be revealing some of the findings from the DESIGNS Project from the interviews with interpreters, deaf people and employers and what they said the main themes were, so we’ll be going in to more depth about the findings. Plus we have two other people – one is a PhD student, Emmy Kauling – her PhD is linked to deaf professionals working with interpreters, which is a perfect fit for the DESIGNS Project. The other is a PhD student, Mette Sommer who is deaf and she’s doing research into deaf people who set up their own businesses, how they felt about it, what their experiences have been like and what motivated them to go it alone? And again that’s a perfect fit with the DESIGNS Project, which is why we asked her to give a presentation. So the four of us will be presenting for about 15 minutes each and then you’ll have an opportunity to ask questions via Twitter, or you can watch via FB and the send in comments/questions and we’ll both respond so I hope you’ll join us and be watching on June 14th.

Audrey: We do want your feedback on the 14th – what you think of the findings; also maybe you can add something extra from your own experience that we could explore further with you.

Jemina: This project runs up until June of next year 2019 which means as we go on there will be further updates like this one, letting you know what’s happening. Plus as part of the project there’s an expectation that we’ll produce more training resources for interpreters, deaf people and employers which means there will be more happening right through until the June when we finish.

We want to say a huge thanks to the Advisory Group and Vercida and others who helped us find people to participate in this research project and also a big thanks to everyone who agreed to be interviewed either as part of a group, or one to one – we’ve been so touched by the time they’ve taken to tell about their experiences – it’s been really valuable and much appreciated, so thank you to you all!

Audrey: I’m sure this will help us to make big changes to employment for deaf people – fingers crossed!

Deaf Artists commissioned on Translating the Deaf Self project

manchester heriotwatt

 

Using an innovative approach to re-interpret Deaf Studies and Interpreting research through art, 3 Deaf sign language using artists have been commissioned through Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Follow-on Funding to ‘translate’ the findings of the Translating the Deaf Self project that was initially funded through an AHRC Research Innovation Grant. The original project investigated deaf sign language users’ experiences of being known through translation the representation of deaf people through sign language interpreters and the potential impact on well being. This project explores the findings from that project through artistic exploration and transformation in the visual arts as a means of engaging more deaf people and communities with these ideas.

This interdisciplinary project is being led jointly by a deaf-hearing research team from the Social Research with Deaf People group in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Manchester and the Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies in the Department of Languages  & Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University.

The team are working collaboratively with Deaf Explorer – an artist agency supporting Deaf creatives – to support artists-in-residence in Deaf community organisations, including Deaf Action in Edinburgh, DeafPLUS in London, Manchester Deaf Centre and the Royal Association of the Deaf in Romford.

Three professional artists, and one artist intern, will spend a period of time in each organisation where they will be given the time, space and resources to delve into the issues reported in the preceding Translating the Deaf Self project with local Deaf people and to inform their artistic inspirations.  Other arts based workshops will happen in further locations.

This is a community-participatory project that not only involves local deaf communities but also offers the opportunity for deaf artist capacity building through the recruitment of a new deaf artist to shadow one of the professional artists as an intern.

An exhibition of the artwork will take place in September 2018, and community responses to the art will be gathered in order to further explore the extended concept of Translated Deaf Selves.

INTRODUCING THE ARTISTS

CS

Christopher Sacre will be based at Deaf Action. His work involves exploring the flow, boundaries and the shape of humanity and human populations, the inclusion and exclusion and how some humans move through the world differently to the rest.

RT

Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq will be based at Deaf Plus and her installations and paintings explore how we collect our feelings and thoughts within ourselves and how we learn to contain them within our own personal space and cultural boundaries.

LS

Louise Stern will be based at the Royal Association of the Deaf and has produced visual arts, films, and literature that work around ideas of language, communication and isolation.

RLH

Ruaridh Lever-Hogg recently graduated with a Masters in Fine Art from the University of Dundee and will be involved as an intern.. In his artwork he explores emotional responses to place, events, form or object.

 

Want to know more?

Twitter @UoMSORD    @HW_CTISS    @deafexplorer

Search the hashtag #ArtviaTDS on all social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.) The artists and research team will be using this hashtag to post about this project and its progression!

 

For more information about the preceding Translating the Deaf Self research project, follow the blog posts, linked below (BSL versions also available on these websites):

2 October 2014 [Uni of Manchester] Translating the Deaf Self: understanding the impact of mediation

8 March 2016 [LINCS] Translating the Deaf Self: An update

30 Aug 2016 [LINCS] The Translating the Deaf Self project: Where are we now?

13 Jan 2017 [LINCS] The Translating the Deaf Self project: Wrapping up and what’s next?

 

This project is funded by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (Ref:  AH/R003750/1)

For further information contact alys.young@manchester.ac.uk or j.napier@hw.ac.uk

Deaf ExplorerAHRC

 

Links to project team & partners:

https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/research/nursing-groups/social-research-with-deaf-people/

http://www.ctiss.hw.ac.uk

https://deafexplorer.com

http://www.deafaction.org.uk

http://www.deafplus.org

https://royaldeaf.org.uk

http://www.manchesterdeafcentre.com

 

 

Links to deaf artists:

https://www.rubbena.com

http://www.christophersacre.com/website/Home.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louise_Stern

http://www.tenartists.co.uk/artists/ruaridh

 

 

Signing up a storm?

Not for the first time, the Eurovision Song Contest has managed to draw attention to language issues in a revealing way.

We all know the controversies over the years about countries choosing to sing in English. If you thought that wasn’t happening so much nowadays, the 2017 final featured 42 songs, of which 35 were sung entirely in English – at 83%, that’s the highest proportion ever.

You may be less aware, though, that Eurovision has also offered its own unique window on the place of sign language in society.

Back in 2005, the Latvian entry ‘The War Is Not Over’ featured a final chorus in which the performers, Valters & Kaža, left their stools and laid down their acoustic guitars to sign alongside their signing. It’s not clear why. The song received the famous douze points from IrelandLithuania and Moldova, and finished 5th overall.

Things nearly got more interesting in 2009 when a Deaf artist, Signmark, competed in Finland’s national Eurovision qualifications. Signmark (real name: Marko Vuoriheimo), who was born into a signing family, performed ‘Speakerbox’ with a hearing singer. But the song ended up in second place in the Finnish competition and so narrowly missed out on being chosen for the grand Eurovision final. Nevertheless, Signmark went on to great things and goes down in history as the first deaf person to sign a recording contract with an international record company (Warner Music).

In 2015, the focus shifted from signing performers to a signing interpreter. In Sweden, the national competition was presented with Tommy Krångh delivering Swedish Sign Language renditions alongside each song. His work was so popular that there were demands for him to appear for the grand final, too

And what’s the story in 2018?

This year, the UK has decided to experiment with signing. SuRie, our representative in Lisbon, has recorded a British Sign Language version of her track ‘Storm’. The BBC proudly reported that she learnt it “in just a few hours”. SuRie has, we’re told, “been wanting to learn BSL for a long time” and jumped at the chance to pursue this when a fan sent her a video of himself signing ‘Storm’. The BBC’s Newsround said: “She got in touch and asked if he would teach her how to sign the lyrics too”.

The initiative soon started to attract interest. A clip was released on Twitter, but not everyone was enthusiastic, with one person even saying “this makes me want to poke my eyes out”. The singer anxiously replied “I realise there’s tons more to BSL than I was able to portray here and that I have a helluva lot more to learn”. More discussion followed, spinning out – that’s social media, folks! – into strongly-worded antagonism and much taking of sides.

A 24-hour Twitter poll summarised three stances that were emerging. Respondents voted as follows to the proposition that SuRie’s BSL version should be seen as either:

  • Inspiring: a model of inclusivity and artistic creativity – 16%
  • Harmlessly well-intentioned but misguided – 60%
  • Cynical, crass, ignorant and disrespectful – 24%

So what’s going on here? And why is this a LifeinLINCS issue?

Well, as a department, LINCS teaches both spoken and signed languages. And we specialise in both translation and interpreting studies, and intercultural research. The SuRie ‘Storm’-in-a-teacup touches on every part of this.

British Sign Language (BSL) wasn’t even understood to be a language until the mid-1970s. Ten years later, it started to be taught in earnest. And within 20 years of that point, it had become one of the most popular adult education subjects in the UK. Almost all of that teaching was being led by Deaf BSL users.

Now, thanks in part to a Heriot-Watt initiative, plans are afoot to offer BSL as a full language subject in schools across Scotland. LINCS’ own Dr Ella Leith is currently on secondment to the Scottish Qualifications Authority, coordinating a project to develop BSL qualifications for high schools. Exciting times!

But this starts to show why SuRie’s BSL work has frustrated some. BSL simply can’t be learned meaningfully in two hours: “It’s a complex language, you know” noted one tweeter, “way beyond swear words and song lyrics and Trump’s sign name”. The professionalisation of BSL teaching has been pursued for over 30 years. Reversing the historic oppression of the language has been wrapped up with highlighting, as teachers, Deaf people for whom BSL is a preferred language.

Then there’s the question of the quality of the BSL translation. LINCS students work their socks off not for hours but for years (eg on our main undergraduate programme to develop the ability to produce effective BSL output from English source material. And they wouldn’t start with artistic matter like song lyrics, either!

Above all, perhaps, an opportunity has been missed to do some valuable intercultural work. A Eurovision entry that had been seriously planned with both sung and signed content, developed by artists with profound knowledge of the underlying issues of language and heritage, would have been much less likely to have been viewed as ‘cultural appropriation’ at work.

Can there be a happy ending to this story?

Eurovision reached over 180 million television viewers in 2017. Sending any kind of message to such an audience about effective engagement with sign language and with considered, high-quality translation would have to be welcome. The big prize, though, would be to show clearly that Deaf people aren’t so much “in need” of some crumbs of “access” from the hearing world’s table, but are contributors to society with extraordinary artistic, linguistic and cultural riches to share.

LINCS’ own work on the intangible heritage of the Deaf community reinforces that there are many creative artists using BSL. The Scottish Government’s National Plan for BSL envisages “promotion” of BSL as part of the shared cultural life of the nation. We’re working to get that message out through initiatives like the current two-year Royal Society of Edinburgh project to construct a Deaf Heritage network which can feed BSL inspiration into national cultural institutions.

SuRie appears to have quickly realised that there was more to all of this than meets the eye, saying: “Probs best if I leave it to the professionals, I really never intended to disappoint anyone in the community… but I realise I’m out of my depth and I do apologise”. Perhaps the very best thing she could do would be to turn this outcome on its head by coming out as a true champion for BSL in society and the arts. Now that really would send a clear signal.

Professor Graham H. Turner

Moving Languages – English application launch !

erasmus-logo Moving Languages_Logo_white backgr

Moving Languages – English application launch

Friday 8th June 2018,   18:00 – 20:00

Esmée Fairbairn building Lecture theatre – EF26

Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton Campus

Edinburgh

The Moving Languages application constitutes an EU-funded project designed to help new migrants learn the host language(s) and familiarise themselves with culture-specific vocabulary. A user-friendly, versatile and comprehensive app, it also aims to encourage people to learn other languages and promote understanding between cultures. Our mission is to help combat linguistic and cultural isolation, which is proven to be one of the key barriers to the successful integration of migrants. The project is led by Finnish organisation Learnmera Oy.

 This free application provides a gamified language and culture-learning solution. It contains 4000+ illustrated vocabulary items for easy concept recognition. It will be available for download from all major app stores from June 2018. 

Users can learn English, Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, Finnish (main languages) from 20 support languages, widely spoken by refugees/migrants in the partner countries: Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Estonian, French, Hungarian, Kurdish (Sorani), Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Somali, Tigrinya, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu.

Are you a user of any of the main or support languages? Do you work in the languages or intercultural communication industry? Then join us at the launch of the English version of the Moving Languages application!

The event will be followed by a feedback session and a drinks reception for an opportunity to find out more about the project.

The event is free but spaces are limited, so please register here:

https://goo.gl/forms/v0jgBXbcT0TgZKso1

Details on how to get to the venue will be emailed to registered participants.

For more information, please contact the UK coordinator, Dr Katerina Strani: A.Strani@hw.ac.uk

Project flyer in English: Moving Languages Flyer ENGLISH

Website: http://www.movinglanguages.eu/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/movinglanguages/

LinkedIN: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8580234

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/movinglanguages/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MovLanguages

 

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission under Project No. 2016-1-FI01-KA204-022678

Borderland identities

by Kerstin Pfeiffer

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“Wie, Sie … äh… du weißt nicht wie Snapchat geht?” Three pairs of eyes fix me in complete disbelief. A part of me wants the floor of the rehearsal room to open wide and swallow me there and then. For the third time in less than two hours I am pleading age-related ignorance of this or that social media platform. And it is only day 1 of the workshop.

Catching up with 21st-century culture was an interesting by-product of my work with Čojč Theaternetzwerk Böhmen Bayern (http://cojc.eu/cs/), a Czech-German theatre network in 2017. The network organises bilingual theatre projects on both sides of the border, and I joined last year’s main project, Like/Hate, as a participant observer. For two weeks in August and September, Like/Hate brought together 20 young people aged 14 to 27 living Bavaria and Bohemia to create a theatrical performance centering on the influence of social networks on our thinking, behaviour, and the way we present ourselves to the world. My main reason for observing the project had less to do with the question how we conceive of performing the self in and through social media than with an interest in the participants’ real-life communication and interactions – with each other and with the audience.

In many bilingual youth projects along the German borders, pooling linguistic resources is considered one of the main strategies for facilitating intercultural dialogue and fostering cross-border relationships unencumbered (or at least less encumbered) by the baggage of historical differences between the Germans and their neighbours. Čojč projects are no exception but they go one step further in that they aim to create performances which are accessible to monolingual speakers of Czech and German alike by using a hybrid of Czech and German, Čojč, on stage. The network motto provides a good example of how this can work: ‘Mit divadlem theater hýbat grenzen hranicemi bewegen’. The word Čojč itself is a blend of from the Czech word for the Czech language, Česky, and the use of Czech spelling for the word [d]eutsch – [d]ojč, and in some senses, Čojč (the language) is the verbal manifestation of a strong sense of a distinct regional identity grounded in the historical and cultural particularities of the Bavarian-Bohemian border region that pervades the network.

The city of Plzeň

So how does the Čojč network use language(s) to express, negotiate and potentially transform (individual) identities? How do workshop participants communicate with each other? Which language do they use, when, and why? What are the effects of using a hybrid language on the audience? In other words, how is regional identity performed and how is it changed in and through performance?  And how do such performances integrate into contemporary discourses about the role of regions in responding to societal challenges within the EU? These were just some the questions that guided my observation of the devising process and the interviews I conducted with participants and network members. The larger framework for this research is the Horizon2020-funded project Critical Heritages: performing and representing identities in Europe (CoHERE) (https://research.ncl.ac.uk/cohere/) which investigates the socio-political and cultural significance of European heritages and their role in developing communitarian identities. My work with Čojč Theaternetzwerk Böhmen Bayern forms a case study within the project work package led by Heriot-Watt and the Latvian Academy of Culture focusing on cultural forms and expressions of identity in Europe (PI: Prof Ullrich Kockel).

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Landmarks of Plzeň

Data analysis is still ongoing, but some main themes are already emerging. The first is the importance of liminal spaces in which borders – linguistic, cultural, political – and dichotomies are temporarily suspended a and in which the question of the contours of a particular cross-border identity can be explored and negotiated. The second concerns language use. For Like/Hate, some ground rules for communication were assigned top-down from the bilingual project leader team; more frequently, however, participants made their own decisions about how to communicate effectively with each other and  how to produce theatrical material that is accessible to monolingual speakers of Czech and German respectively. Bilingual cooperation relied quite strongly on translation in the devising and rehearsal process. Within that process, translation was conceived of from the outset as a collaborative activity – and a collaborative responsibility. While translation accountability was sometimes regarded as an unwanted or uncomfortable responsibility by the participants, it also holds the potential to become a vehicle for authority in the co-creative process. Moreover, the communication choices made by the participants clearly went beyond pragmatic concerns: they frequently reflected existing linguistic asymmetries. Or, in other words, German dominated the rehearsal room. These initial findings about communication choices suggest interesting parallels with other bilingual theatre workshops, such as Michael Richardson’s (Heriot-Watt University) investigations into BSL-English theatre. These will be presented as part of a comparative study at the upcoming conference of the International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS) in Hong Kong:

Pfeiffer, K., and Wurm, S., ‘(Un)Performing Barriers: A comparative  study of bilingual theatre in two inter-cultural spaces’, paper to be presented at 6th IATIS Conference, 3-6 July 2018, Hong Kong

Curious about Čojč and Like/Hate? Meet the participants and watch the project vlogs here: https://www.like-hate.com. Two of seven performances in Passau and Pilsen are also available as a livestream on the Čojč Land Network Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/cojcface/.

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Performance: Like/Hate 
Photographer: Valentina Eimer
Photo taken on 25 September 2017 in Passau

 

 

 

 

Reporting from 14th ETMU Days conference: ‘Race, Power and Mobilities’

Dr Katerina Strani led a working group on ‘Cross-cultural understandings of Race’ during the 14th ETMU Days conference themed Race, Power and Mobilities, which took place at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland on 26-27 October.

The working group was put together to examine cross-cultural understandings of race in the context of increased mobility and migration.

Minna Seikkula presented a paper on ‘The nexus between Anti-Racist Activists’ Conceptions of race/racism and migration’. Minna’s paper explored (dis)connections between racism and race/coloniality through an analysis of antiracist activists’ conceptions of racialized relations and practices in connection to migration. In Finland, as a part of the Nordic countries, speaking of racism often contains many paradoxes that are intensified by the current polarized political debate. For instance, Nordic self-perception is built on ideas of equality and democracy, while the eugenic pasts and their traces in the present are actively excluded from the grand narratives of the nation states. Race and racism are repeatedly seen relevant mainly or only in relation to migration, which can been seen to re-inforce the (false) image of white, homogeneous nation-states – yet, welfare state practices governing migration are often seen as neutral (or even anti-racist).

 Minna’s paper compared the views of activists reacting to heightened presence of the extreme right, as well as those demonstrating solidarity to newly arrived migrants and those articulating Black, Brown and Muslim identities. In the analysis, the focus was on the question of how racialized oppression is connected to or disconnected from the continuum of coloniality, which reproduces a world divided between west and the rest through racialized borders. The analysis is based on interview data with 47 antiracist activists in Finland.

Next, Marta Padovan-Özdemir presented a paper written with Trine Øland on ‘Refugee Arrivals, Helping Hands and Hearts and Racialised Welfare Dynamics in Denmark, 1978-2016’. Marta and Trine’s abstract was as follows: “In the Summer of 2015, in all European welfare nation-states professionals, policy makers, administrators, and civil society organisations were in highest alert over the major refugee arrivals from Afghanistan, Syria, and the African continent. In Denmark, in particular, the government responded with stricter border controls and containment of refugees in temporary tent camps. Local administrative bodies and ngo’s contributed with panics about the managing of the new refugee groups. This state-of-alert is particularly interesting in a historical perspective of earlier Danish responses to the arrival of new refugee groups: The Afghans in the 2000s, the Bosnians in the 1990s, the Iranians in the early 1980s, the Vietnamese in the 1970s, the Jewish Poles in the late 1960s, the Hungarians in the 1950s, and not least, the Germans in 1945-46. The above-identified state-of-alert points to professional and civil confusion, disruption, and anxiety about not being able to manage a presumably new target group with the cultural repertoires already available. This state-of-alert crystallises welfare problematisations of the new target groups and becomes an occasion for the mobilisation of joint forces to manage and solve the imagined problems, thereby generating new tasks and needs for the helping hands and hearts.

This paper’s objective is to gain insight into continuities and breaks in re-presentations of the refugee, and on that background understand the welfare dynamic, which is mobilized in response to the arrival of new refugee groups.

The analysis builds upon critical studies of Danish welfare state developments and draws historical and analytical inspiration from Donzelot’s genealogies of the double pathologization inherent in welfare work. This is combined with Fanon’s underscoring of the racial order’s subtle expressions in postcolonial societies, which is supported by Said’s argument that re-presentation of the Other is the result of a willed human work.

Methodologically, the paper is designed as a historical-sociological documentary study of annual reports, newsletters, and consultations from Danish Refugee Council, Danish Red Cross and Association of Municipalities from the periods 1978-1980 (Vietnamese), 1992-1996 (Bosnians), and 2014-2016 (Syrian). The paper identifies two dominant re-presentations of the refugee as object of civil and public welfare work: the productive and the sick. Thus, the paper alludes to the racialisation of the welfare dynamic mobilized in response to refugees. A racialized welfare dynamic that is governed by an economic and pathological concern for the degeneration of society as well as of the individual.”

Finally, Katerina Strani presented her paper on ‘Exploring Cross-cultural Understandings on Race’.  The concept of race, albeit controversial and disputed, is becoming more and more thematised in today’s multicultural societies, which are increasingly re-shaped by migration and changing demographics. These changes are bringing to the fore discussions on culture, belonging and otherness, with race being a central aspect of the latter. Starting from the premise that race is a social construct, Katerina’s paper looked at differences in the meaning, significance and difference in the construction of race and racialisation in different countries and cultures. The focus was on processes of exclusion and othering through racialisation and the hegemony of whiteness (cf Ahmed, 2007). It challenged the concepts of race and racism in the framework of migration nand mobility and urged the necessity to revisit these key concepts and seek definitions, clarifications and boundaries from people of colour themselves. The paper sought to establish a language to talk about race in a cross-cultural, changing and dynamic context without resorting to stereotypes, colourblindness or homogenisation of experiences.

The presentations were followed by a lively discussion on definitions, boundaries and ‘white saviour’ complex, which included two of the three keynote speakers of the conference, Nando Sigona and Tobias Hübinette. Working group participants are grateful for all comments and interest in our research!

The full conference programme and book of abstracts are available here: http://etmudays.etmu.fi/en/programme/

LINCS collaboration with the Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival

by José María Conde and Ramón Inglada

The 2017 Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival (ESFF) starts on Thursday October 5th and will run in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling until October 31st. This is the 4th edition of the festival and LINCS is collaborating with the ESFF once more, this time as a ‘Major Sponsor’:

http://www.edinburghspanishfilmfestival.com/sponsors/

This is a contribution with the best we can offer from our school: interpreters. Three of our interpreting students will be volunteer interpreters in several presentations and Q&A sessions with Spanish speaking filmmakers. More details are available in the website below:

https://www.edinburghspanishfilmfestival.com/en/festival/2017/

Two staff members in LINCS, José María Conde and Ramón Inglada, are coordinating this collaboration, hoping that it will continue for many more future editions of the festival.

We encourage you to attend some of the screenings and enjoy the festival!

SpanishFilmFestival