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Translating language into a stronger society

1 November 2016


Cardiff University researchers will lead a ground-breaking project to study and support languages in Namibia after securing a major Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) grant.

The work, in collaboration with the University of Namibia (UNAM) and the Universities of Bristol, St Andrews and Warwick in the UK, will enhance effective communication in a country where English and Afrikaans are spoken among many indigenous languages.

Researchers hope that better interpretation and translation can make a significant contribution to objectives such as poverty reduction and health promotion.

Lessons learnt will be taken home to the UK to help turn multilingualism, particularly in bilingual Wales, into a resource for social cohesion, cultural creativity and economic growth.

The project, Transnationalizing Modern Languages: Global Challenges, has received funding of £232,532 - and will run from November 2016 to June 2017.

The work will be supported by Cardiff University’s Phoenix Project, an engagement project that works with UNAM and Welsh Government on a range of activities involving education, health, communication and science.

Professor Loredana Polezzi, of Cardiff University’s School of Modern Languages, who is leading the project, said: “We hope to gather new information on the dynamics of multilingualism and the role of translation in a developing country such as Namibia.

“We will aim to sensitise key groups in Namibia to these themes, create educational resources which can be used by school teachers as well as health professionals and their trainers, and to take home some important lessons on how to make the most of the linguistic resources of multicultural societies.”

The project is funded by the AHRC through the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund which aims to improve the economic prosperity and quality of life of people in developing nations.

Judith Hall, who leads the Phoenix Project and is also Professor of Anaesthetics, Intensive Care and Pain Medicine at Cardiff University, said: “As a doctor I have struggled over many years to make sure that truthful and honest messages are given and received by me and my patients. That is what working across languages means to me.”

Professor Kenneth Matengu, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Development, UNAM, said: “Namibia is a truly multilingual multicultural country and we wish to cherish our complex heritage. This grant allows us to do that, but also to understand how our languages can remain living and vibrant for the future.”

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