Lost and Found in Translation: An Ecological Approach to Bilingual Research Methodology

  • Justin Jagosh
  • Donald Boudreau


Translation issues emerged from a qualitative study, conducted in French and English, that gathered patient perspectives on a newly implemented undergraduate medical curriculum entitled Physicianship: The Physician as Professional and Healer. French-speaking participants were interviewed using a translated interview guide, originally developed in English. A major finding that francophone participants contested the idea of the physician-healer in a manner not witnessed among the Anglophone participants. Consultation with multilingual health professionals was undertaken to explore whether the contestation was the result of poor translation of the word healer. This process confirmed that no appropriate French equivalent could be found. With hindsight, the authors emphasize the importance of pretesting translated research instrumentation. An ecological perspective on language equivalency is also emphasized, in which emergent linguistic discrepancies are viewed as opportunities for learning about the culture-language relationship.
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