Investigating the Role of Communities and NGOs in Supporting Sustainable Crisis Translation in Hong Kong

Project: Research project

Project Details


Effectively communicating crisis information such as hygiene instructions in an
epidemic is key in mitigating risk in disaster situations. The small amount of literature examining crisis communication conducted via translation has sought to increase the visibility of translation in disaster situations and has advocated for a greater emphasis on multilingualism and multiculturalism in government policies. Scholars have also investigated the active participation undertaken by ordinary citizens in the form of crowdsourcing and volunteer translation. These citizen translators play different roles when they produce the translated messages collaboratively. However, the effectiveness and sustainability of their translation activities can be hindered by a lack of professional training, systematic organisation and its ad hoc nature.

These challenges are also encountered by NGOs in their translation provisions, especially when serving minority language users. This project is situated in Hong Kong and aims to facilitate crisis communication with the city’s Nepalese and Pakistani South Asian (SA) residents who have been underprivileged in society and under-researched in the scholarly literature. The project will bring together two stakeholders, i.e. communities and NGOs, by introducing the practice of collaborative translation through a tailored training programme and developing a theoretically informed community of practice with technological support.

The project team will first collect information regarding SA residents’ experience of crisis translation, through a combination of documentary and ethnographic methods including analysis of newspaper reports, evaluation of the crisis information made available on the government’s websites, and ethnographic fieldwork in the SA communities and NGOs. These will provide insights as to issues of availability, accessibility and acceptability in respect of crisis communication with residents speaking minority languages, as well as an initial understanding of the SA’s linguistic competence and communicational needs, and of the challenges that the two stakeholder groups have encountered. Having obtained an in-depth understanding of the status quo of crisis communication conducted in minority languages, the project team will implement a citizen translation training programme, in which collaborative translation involving both
human and non-human actors plays a significant role. The monitoring and evaluation of the interactions between the participants and between human translators and machines, and the interplay between the NGO staff and SA residents, will significantly contribute to our understanding of the process of collaborative translation, non-professional translation and translator training. The outcomes from this project also include a sophisticated research methodology that will be replicable in other studies of participant- and process-oriented translation studies research.
Effective start/end date1/01/2431/12/25


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