Reaching out to the migrants: Translation policies and ideologies during COVID-19 in Finland

28 Apr 2023 07.00 PM - 09.00 PM Alumni, Current Students, Industry/Academic Partners, Prospective Students, Public
Organised by:
Master of Arts in Translation and Interpretation Programme

During the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports from many countries indicated that the infection rate was higher among speakers of non-national languages. For example, in Finland, the media widely reported the high incidence of COVID-19 and the high hospitalization rate among persons whose first language was not a national language. A number of studies confirmed these facts. However, government agencies, hospital districts, municipalities, companies, and NGOs made considerable efforts to translate COVID-19-related information into dozens of non-official languages. In addition to being multilingual, this information production was described as multichannel, comprising written texts, texts combined with pictograms, videos, smartbots, telephone and in-site oral guidance in several language, etc. 

This talk starts with a brief overview of the current linguistic situation in Finland, followed by a summary of previous studies focusing on the production and reception of multilingual information about COVID-19. Second, I introduce the concept of translation ideology and discuss its links to adjacent concepts, such as language ideology, translation awareness, language policy, translation policy, and governmentality by translation. Subsequently, I analyze translation ideologies in two datasets: multilingual information about COVID-19 available on the websites of the three cities of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area in February 2021, and 19 interviews conducted in 2021 and 2022 with persons responsible for multilingual communication in cities, companies, institutions of higher learning, and NGOs operating  in the area. To conclude, I discuss the connections and contradictions between translation ideologies and translation practices.

Simo K. Määttä is Associate Professor of Translation Studies, Docent in French Studies, and Head of the Translation Studies Research Community. His current research focuses on linguistic rights, lingua francas, language ideologies, accuracy, multimodality, agency, and empathy in legal and community interpreting. In addition, he works on public-service translation, hate speech, and the theory of discourse, ideology, and performativity. Previously, he has analyzed the translation of sociolinguistic variation in literature and language policies on regional or minority languages. His research is inspired by sociological translation studies and critical sociolinguistics and discourse studies.