Reflections on translating qualitative research data : Experiences from Pakistan

Document Type



Professional Development Centre, Karachi


This paper grows out of my reflections on conducting narrative inquiry for over a decade in the context of Pakistan. It addresses the question: What have I lost in translation? The question is complex and multidimensional since it includes translation of various kinds: that is translation (i) from one language to another; (ii) of representation of data and (iii) of situating narratives in a social context. The analysis of my reflection demonstrates three important lessons for a qualitative researcher who is involved in researching multilingually: converting data from one language to another requires accuracy and proficiency in both the languages; meaning making and representing involves negotiation with the participants; and situating the stories in social context requires knowledge of the context.

Publication (Name of Journal)

International Journal of Applied Linguistics