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  • The journal of intercultural mediation and communication
  • Transplanting cultures
  • Globalising cultures
  • All around the world

David Katan

The Transcultural turn:  models, training and translation itself. New frameworks for training.


Petra Daryai-Hansen and Anna Schröder-Sura

FREPA  –  A Set of Instruments for the Development of Plurilingual and Inter-/Transcultural Competences


The article will present a description and instructions for use of a set of tools that seeks to facilitate learners’ continuous development and strengthen plurilingual and inter-/transcultural competences. These tools have been developed within the research project Framework of Reference for Pluralistic Approaches to Languages and Cultures (FREPA), which has been supported since 2004 by the Council of Europe’s European Centre for Modern Languages. The FREPA is a complement to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and the European Language Portfolio. The tools consist of (a) a comprehensive list of descriptors operationalising plurilingual and intercultural competences in terms of knowledge, attitudes and skills, (b) a database of teaching material categorised by the FREPA descriptors and (c) a training kit for users. The article introduces the context of the FREPA project and defines the concept of pluralistic approaches. The FREPA tools will be presented by answering the question as to how the FREPA tools can been used to describe and develop transcultural competences. Finally, the recent perspectives of the FREPA project will be outlined.


Susanne Konigorski

Motivation in Multicultural Settings – Using the Synergy between Cultural Dimensions and the Reiss Profile


In the light of international trends towards globalization, and the individualization and feminization of societies, new challenges are arising for managers, consultants and teaching personnel: the effective motivation and leadership of multicultural teams, as well as the preparation of students and expatriates for international careers.

Participating in multicultural teams requires a wide individual and intercultural awareness.

Hall, Hofstede, Trompenaars, the GLOBE project and others have identified and validated several behavioral ‘cultural dimensions’. Their models and country ‘scores’ are generalizations of culture-determined behavioral patterns based on large international databases. These models are useful in determining and understanding the various interactions between people from different countries and cultures.

However, these categories may fall short when dealing with individuals who have been exposed to more than one cultural environment, through extensive travel, study or work abroad, or who are bicultural by birth.

Here, the Reiss Profile comes into play. Reiss developed a scientifically substantiated tool to analyze and visualize individual drivers and motivational patterns, composed of sixteen ‘life motives or basic desires’. They are: power, independence, curiosity, acceptance, order, saving, honor, idealism, social contact, family, status, vengeance, romance, eating, physical activity, tranquility.

This study is a first attempt to derive a meaningful correlation between ‘cultural dimensions’ and individual motivational profiles. Combining knowledge and data derived from both approaches – as presented in this study – can support leadership to raise motivation and thus tap into the innovative and creative potential of multicultural teams. It can also facilitate effective and efficient training of expatriates as well as aiding vocational decision-making.


Helen Spencer-Oatey and Stefanie Stadler

Handling Communication in International Partnerships: Insights on Competence from the eChina-UK Programme


This paper explores the communicative competencies needed in international partnerships. Existing conceptualisations of intercultural competence, developed in various disciplines (e.g. communication studies, applied linguistics, foreign language education, and international business and management studies), all identify communication as a key component. However, despite the insights that existing frameworks offer, they all lack one crucial thing: authentic intercultural discourse data that can provide a contextualised approach and real-life examples. This study aimed to fill this gap. It examined the communication processes that occurred over a 5-year period during a major British–Chinese educational collaboration. The data comprised video recordings of meetings, interview data, and written project records, and these were analysed from an intercultural competency perspective. It resulted in an intercultural competency framework that had four clusters, one of which was communication. This paper reports the communication cluster of competencies, and provides authentic examples from the project to illustrate each of the intercultural competencies within this cluster. It argues that there is a need for greater discourse-based research into intercultural communication, which can complement existing work.


Nigel Ewington and Tim Hill

Push and Pull (The competencies required for working internationally)


An ever-wider range of people in the global workforce require behavioural  solutions for managing interactions with culturally different others in an international business environment marked by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. We look at the research underpinning for a new tool – the International Preferences Indicator (IPI) – that supports international staff in understanding the combination of ‘push’ and ‘pull’ qualities they bring, and need to develop, in implementing effective behaviours for working internationally. We start by reviewing research literature with a specific focus on working across cultures. This includes qualitative and quantitative research on specific competencies that support working in unfamiliar cultural contexts as well as empirical studies of larger-scale collaborative projects within international organisations and partnerships. It seems that a combination of ‘push’ and ‘pull’ skills in the behaviour of international staff is critical for achieving successful interaction, but is also recognised as doing so by local collaborators. We go on to show that the concept of ‘push’ and ‘pull’ not only makes sense of the different findings of research on international competency, but it also has deep roots in philosophical and cultural history as well as broader management topics such as communication, teams, influencing and leadership. We show how certain key behavioural dilemmas raised in this literature such as the need for both advocacy and inquiry when negotiating meaning, and both authenticity and adaptation when leading others, are reflected in the push-pull dilemmas explored in the IPI. We finish the article by looking at the benefits of the IPI at an individual and organisational level.


Nikola Hale

The Mobius Map for living and working in the Cultural intermezzo


In this opinion piece, the author presents her current stage of thinking about inbetweenness in eight thoughts about the intercultural encounter, which she calls the “cultural intermezzo.” Firmly grounded in life from learning and educating on five continents over 35 years, she shares some insights to add to our growing field of perspectives on the intercultural encounter. The concept of “liminal space” as an essential part of intercultural learning and training is emphasized, as it provides a valuable stage for learning while crossing borders of many kinds. Our world today requires us to explore the specificities of the intercultural encounter with new approaches to organizing knowledge, allowing for multiple perspectives to crack the underlying cultural codes. Rather than taking mainly a tree-like knowledge structure to diagnose, analyze and support resolution of differences, we can possibly better serve our ever increasingly hybrid world with a matrix of the intercultural encounter. Ultimately, the author presents the Mobius Map as a metaphor for the way through the unpredictable terrain of the cultural intermezzo, with provocative questions for further investigation in our ever-developing field of interculturality.

Hale_2012 [599 Kb]

Jacquelyn Reeves

Perceptions and interaction on Facebook: Germans and Americans.  Anxiety, openness, flexibility, privacy, growth and change


The Facebook phenomenon is now integrated into many aspects of our lives and through that, our national cultures. We use it to inform, share, to keep up with others, as a forum, to promote, to invite, to criticize and to have fun. 

In this paper, an extrapolation and continuance of a learning and interactive presentation at the Sietar Europa Conference in Cracow, Poland, we will look at US and German perceptions of Facebook and examine them through use of statistics, survey data and examination of Facebook itself. We will look at adult learning theory as well as Mark Zuckerberg`s vision of openness and changing social norms for Facebook and its impact on perceptions of Facebook across these two key cultures.

This paper will utilize the intercultural consultant Fons Trompenaars’ “Sphere of Influence” (2008, pp. 81-100) dimension to explore the meaning of public and personal interaction, perceptions, expectations, results and learning and possible implications within the workplace in Germany and the US. Information gathered before and through the presentation will offer possible direction and ways forward.

We may ask if the Germans and/or Americans adjust their perception and use of private and public space through interaction with others with and within a larger public space and if so, how?  Does small talk become big talk or otherwise? Do deep culture, or values and beliefs (Schaules, 2007) change? Does the concept of community change?  What is being communicated? How is it being received? What are our expectations, reactions and perceptions to and of community on the Facebook platform?

Lastly, what are possible shifts in growth, learning and social change within Facebook? This is an exploratory paper with the goal of generating and stimulating thought. 

Reeves_2012 [473 Kb]

Marián Morón-Martín

“Transtraining Interculturators” or Training Communication Experts in Today’s Transcultural World


In an interconnected world, it is a recognised fact that exchanges – of products, services, people, expertise and knowledge, to name but a few – are needed. In the European Union, created to facilitate such exchanges and communication, mobility has proven to be a guarantee for the future of the Union and a key element behind the reform of the European higher education system. In the training of communication and translation experts, mobility is also considered to play a fundamental role, bringing about not only linguistic gains, but also other competencies necessary for successfully operating in transcultural and multilingual communication events. However, as Noreiko mused in 1990, much of the push to encourage mobility may, in fact, stem from unfounded assumptions and a generally vague understanding of the matter. In light of the changing structures and names of higher education degree programs within the convergence process, the complete integration of Erasmus as part of the university student experience, the flexibility of the labour market, the development of transcultural societies and the rapid changes of current political and economic realities, this paper attempts to address the role translation and language trainees view their transnational experiences as playing in their future integration into the labour market and open society, in general, as experts in intercultural communication. Using a mixed-methods approach and online research tools, the study analyses the value of transcultural training and the long-term effects of mobility, while also considering their impact on the personal, academic and professional development of trainees, as perceived by the trainees themselves. The paper summarizes key findings and challenges traditional research methods in translation studies.

Martin_2012 [809 Kb]

Ana Gregorio Cano

Becoming a Translator: the Development of Cultural and Intercultural Competence in Spain


Translators need to develop their competence in order to enable intercultural communication and facilitate communication between societies. Therefore, from a professional perspective, the process by way of which cultural and intercultural competence is acquired by future translators, interpreters and social mediators must necessarily be studied.

The structure of this paper is as follows: section 1 is a clarification of our approach to cultural and intercultural competence in translation, together with an analysis of the theoretical framework in which this study has been developed. Section 2 presents the data collected by means of a questionnaire. Moreover, this section also describes the survey instrument and questionnaire items included in order to understand the data obtained. The research is descriptive, it is an analysis and description of an actual situation, taking into account the main agents involved in the acquisition of cultural and intercultural competence, and no attempt has been made to extrapolate the data obtained to the population as a whole.

This empirical study into the acquisition of cultural and intercultural competence in translation training utilises quantitative data gathered at two stages of learning across several academic years (2007-08, 2008-09 and 2010-11) at five Translation Schools in Spain. The questionnaire study encompasses cultural knowledge, level of cultural competence, attitudes and resources, readiness to adapt one’s behaviour and, openness, as well as students’ attitudes towards cultural and intercultural encounters in daily life. The results provide insight into the self-evaluation of student translators with regard to different aspects of their cultural and intercultural competence.

Keywords: development of intercultural competence, intercultural communication, translator competence, empirical study, students of translation.

Cano_2012 [454 Kb]

Katia Peruzzo and Isabel Durán-Muñoz

Travel insurance policies: a “playground” for training transculturally-aware translators*


The purpose of the present article is to analyse the suitability of employing travel insurance policies terms and conditions in the context of a specialised translation course at university level so as to develop translator professional competences. Instead of carrying out a text selection based only on experience, tradition or intuition, which are frequent criteria to include text types in the syllabus of this kind of courses, we present a study based on an ad hoc bilingual comparable corpus consisting of original travel insurance policies in Spanish and Italian. By means of this study we justify our selection and highlight the specific features of this kind of hybrid and legally-binding documents, which provide benefits if used as training materials in a specialised translation course. Thanks to these specific features, travel insurance policies provide students with suitable material to work on language and culture divergences and similarities in a cross-cultural environment and to practice different translation strategies in order to solve possible translation problems. By using this kind of material in a specialised translation course, the focus of translators-to-be could be shifted from differences to similarities. This would help trainees acknowledge that different realities designated by different languages are undergoing a progressive convergence due to the expansion of tourism as an increasingly transcultural market sector and would enhance their self-perception of their role as transculturally-aware communication specialists.


David Limon

Film titles and cultural transfer


Many small European nations are now subject to one-way cultural traffic with regard to film and television production and Slovenia is no exception to this, since its TV schedules and cinemas are dominated by English-language (mainly American) programmes and films. Most of these products are subtitled, which has led to a great demand for translators working as subtitlers; the focus of this paper, however, is on the translation of the titles of these products. Why is it that the Slovene translations of the titles of English-language films and television programmes so often differ both semantically and stylistically from the original? Who is responsible for these translations, what translation strategies are employed, and is the frequent criticism of the quality of such translations justified? A corpus of film titles translated from English into Slovene for Slovenia's main television listings publication will be compiled and examined for evidence of translation strategies such as explicitation, standardisation, disambiguation and simplification. We shall also see how cultural references and stylistic elements such as allusion and word play are dealt with. To understand the underlying reasons for the translation strategy applied some sociological research will also be carried out into the translators involved and the institutional environment in which the translations take place, i.e. film distribution and television companies. To what extent was translation strategy guided by a specific brief, and to what extent were the translators adapting to prevailing norms within the target culture? More specifically, is there any evidence of risk avoidance involved, i.e. the translator assuming that ambiguous or cryptic titles would lead to (reader) complaints? The aim here is to offer a detailed description of a very specific translation situation involving cultural transfer.

Limon_2012 [246 Kb]

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