“Language is (not) a barrier”: Towards effective translation policies and practices for official communication with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in Brussels

This joint PhD project will be based at KU Leuven with a minimum 12 month stay at The University of Melbourne.

Metropolises like Brussels or Melbourne are sites of unprecedented cultural and linguistic diversity. This creates pressing challenges for multilingual official communication with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, as seen in the Covid-19 pandemic. Addressing those challenges will require change in translation policies and practices, with close attention to their real-world effects.

Project description
The doctoral project that is to be carried out with KU Leuven as the host institution will analyze the policies, practices and effects of official translations that address culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in Brussels.

It will ascertain the provision of translation in public services in terms of numbers of translations, types of translations, target languages and types of administrations involved. It will identify the levels at which translation policies, both overt and covert, are formulated and enacted, how translations reach the various language communities, and the role of volunteer translation practices from NGOs and grassroots citizens’ initiatives in public services, particularly with respect to the reworking, re-narration and interpreting of information.

The candidate will select one or two language communities for detailed analysis of the reception processes, with particular attention to instances of trust and distrust in official behavior-change communication. The nature and topic of the communication will correspond to the issues of importance at the time of the study.

The research should lead to an evaluation of the way translation policies are formulated and enacted, with an assessment of their success in achieving trust relationships and influencing changes in behavior. At each stage of the research, comparison will be made with the same policies and practices in the city of Melbourne, with one year of the research being carried out at the University of Melbourne.

General objective: To propose guidelines for effective translation policies and practices for official communication with CALD communities in linguistically superdiverse cities.

Specific research questions

  1. What are the national, regional and local translation policies in Brussels (PhD1) and Melbourne (PhD2)? Which laws, decrees and regulations explicitly call for translation (overt translation policy)? Which lead to translation as part of linguistic or other laws (e.g. non-discrimination) (covert translation policy)? In what ways are these policies responding to the linguistic diversity of Brussels’s (PhD1) and Melbourne’s (PhD2) CALD communities, especially in crisis situations such as Covid-19? In what ways do they match or differ between Brussels and Melbourne? (PIs)
  2. What are the translation practices in public services in Brussels (PhD1) and Melbourne (PhD2)? In what ways do they follow, go beyond or lag behind the translation policies in Brussels (PhD1) and Melbourne (PhD2)?
  3. In what ways are translation practices responding to the linguistic needs of Brussels’s (PhD1) and
  4. Melbourne’s (PhD2) CALD communities? Do they match or differ between Brussels and Melbourne? (PIs)
  5. What are the signs of (dis)trust of CALD communities in official multilingual communication in Brussels (PhD1) and Melbourne (PhD2)? In what ways are the dynamics of trust and distrust different in Brussels and Melbourne (PI’s)? In what ways can distrust most effectively be countered by translation policies and practices in Brussels (PhD1) and Melbourne (PhD2)?

 

Supervision team:

Principal Investigators (PIs)

Professor Dr Reine Meylaerts (KU Leuven)
Professor Anthony Pym (The University of Melbourne)

Co-Principal Investigators (co-PIs)

Associate Professor Dr Elke Brems (KU Leuven)
Associate Professor Andrea Rizzi (The University of Melbourne)

How to apply