From Romanian "Soul" to English "Heart": Dilemmas of Cultural and Gender Representation in Translating Qualitative Data

Alexandra Macht


In this article I argue that translation in cross-cultural research leads to the construction of a certain linguistic hierarchy, wherein the English language subordinates the Romanian language. I illustrate my arguments with examples from 47 qualitative interviews with Scottish and Romanian fathers on the topic of love. To situate this argument, I describe how in my role as an Anglo-Romanian bilingual interpreter I inadvertently contributed to the creation of this hierarchy. This happened through translation as I was fitting Romanian into English to disseminate the meanings, values and emotions of Romanian fathers to a primarily English-speaking audience. At the same time by employing emotional reflexivity and focusing on gender matters in the context of shared responsibility of constructing knowledge, I resolved some linguistic tensions. Paradoxically, by carrying emotional meanings across into another language, there is the main positive consequence of moving the focus in research from the center to the margins, as it increases the visibility of a usually overlooked sample of people from a specific cultural background.


translation; emotions; culture; gender; qualitative interviews; emotional reflexivity

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Copyright (c) 2018 Alexandra Macht

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