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Workshop on Translation and/in Development


Study Group Notices (2)

When: Friday 25th February; 10:00am (Irish Time) / 17:00 (Vietnam Time)

Where: Online. Join via this link.

A collaboration between the DSA Ireland's Education Study Group and Gender Study group, this online workshop explores "Understanding impacts of local communities' vernacular knowledge on development policy and practice". Chaired by Dr . Gerard McCann Convenor of the Education Study Group and with presentation by Nguyen Nguyen.


Practice-based development necessitates translation that involves multiple actors or agents at many levels, especially in the local contexts of the Global South. For example, development actors may find themselves engaged in the translation of material and policy documents and interpreting at meetings, mostly from and into English because many donors, NGOs and development agencies originate in the Global North and use English as the lingua franca (Tesseur 2017; Roth 2018). However, we do not know to which extent translated policy and policy documents reflect the realities of development work on the ground. In this regard, translation may become a highly problematic feature because, while underlined as a key element in making a development project successful or unsuccessful, its role is often overlooked. The translation of development terminology found in policy documents, for example, impacts policy-making and implementation of development initiatives at local levels (Tesseur and Crack 2020).

As an important category of findings of the PhD project titled Translation and Development: Promoting More Effective Policy Interventions in Vietnam, five general problems of translation in development practice in general contexts have been identified (Nguyen 2021; 2022). Among these problems, the figurative translation of development as a system of knowledge emerges, while there is an urgent need for stakeholders and policy champions to engage with the translation of key terminology. For this reason, this brief workshop aims to enable participants to understand the impacts of vernacular knowledge by showcasing the real-world examples of how several development concepts are used in the Vietnamese context. As policy champions in development work, participants will have a chance to feedback on whether these cases fit in their own contexts or entail any impact on policy and practice. At policy-making levels, this workshop offers an awareness-raising opportunity to address language and translation issues in general, and different perspectives to fitting terminology work into policy. Policy implications will also be presented to the Development Studies Association Ireland (DSA Ireland) at a later stage in the form of a policy brief to consolidate translation and terminology issues in light of participants’ feedback during the workshop.

About the presenter

Nguyen Nguyen has been involved with DSA Ireland space and study groups since 2019, starting with his role as co-convenor of the Postgraduate Network. Currently a final-year PhD candidate at Dublin City University (DCU) under the supervision of Dr. Patrick Cadwell, he has presented at DSA Ireland annual conferences over the years and been bringing in up-to-date research findings by writing, including one of his recent papers, The issues of translating development terminology in Vietnam: empirical evidence from the perspective of Translation Studies which was awarded the DSA Ireland Best Student Paper Award 2020. 

Recent publications

Nguyen, Nguyen (2021). “The issues of translating development terminology in Vietnam: empirical evidence from the perspective of Translation Studies”.

Nguyen, Nguyen (2022). “Scoping out emerging communities of practice of translation in development work in Vietnam: Empirical evidence from the perspective of Translation Studies”. The Journal of Specialised Translation 37, 116-138.

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