Language is a barrier that can have serious implications when it comes to knowledge sharing. This is an issue that has been at the center of many discussions at the AgKnowledge Africa Share Fair hosted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In her blog post covering the Training and Sharing Day at this event, Camille De Stoop writes about meeting her brother duck – in French. On her ShareFair name tag is a picture of a duck, and during an ice-breaking session she was instructed to find another “duck participant”, which she did: a man from Niger. Her brother duck was having problems with the language. “Everything is in English,” he said, “the panel discussions, the presentations, and many of the publications.” Another participant from Sénégal was having similar difficulties; while a participant from Kenya pointed out that his mother tongue is Swahili.
Similar problems exit elsewhere. In his blog post “Language still key to effective knowledge sharing”, Andrew Clappison (CommsConsult) wonders what percentage of research for development issues is translated into other languages. His conclusion? Very little. Read his post to find out what Dr Emmanuel Chabata, from the University of Zimbabwe, had to say in a video interview about his work, which seeks to build capacity in this area and help domesticate knowledge through its translation into local languages.
This is an issue that we discuss also in the third A of our our AAA framework… how applicable is your research if it cannot be read or understood?
In another blog post, Andrew had this to say about effective knowledge sharing: “Let’s be honest, effective knowledge sharing can be difficult, with lots of different factors to consider. We need to firstly make knowledge understandable, to make sense of what it is telling us in our native languages. Then we have to think about how we can pass knowledge on to other people within different cultures and societies and through their languages. If this is not complicated enough we also have to think about the resources we hold, the tools at our disposal and the relationships we have formed to help make knowledge travel.”
It makes sense, no matter what language you speak.
You can follow the Share Fair via the Social Media Team’s coverage on the Share Fair official blog as well as the individual sites of the various tools used:
• Blog: http://tinyurl.com/sfaddisblog
• Wiki: http://tinyurl.com/sfaddiswiki
• Tweets: http://tinyurl.com/sfaddistweets
• Photos: http://tinyurl.com/sfaddisphotos
• Videos: http://tinyurl.com/sfaddisblips
• Social web: http://tinyurl.com/sfaddismention
• Share fair FM: http://tinyurl.com/sfaddisfm
In the meantime the ShareFair has come to an end… stay tuned for my last of the series post on how the Fair, attended by over 300 participants, ended.
Picture courtesy: www.shotfromthehip.org