Multilingual Content and its Use



Historically, the lingua franca of science has been English, but there is growing recognition that this places an unacceptable barrier to inclusion, equity, and access for information creators and consumers alike. And, there are, of course, exceptions, for example, where the ascendency of a discipline in a particular country (Italian dominance in astronomy or Russian in space science) has meant that English-language speakers are likewise excluded from full participation. In an age of machine translation, can we overcome this barrier to access? Is the current technology up to the challenge? Our speakers will discuss the challenges and opportunities for maximizing the use of multilingual content?

Confirmed speakers include Suresh Canagarajah, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Applied Linguistics, English, and Asian Studies, Pennsylvania State University; Dan ConnorAssociate Editor, Manager, & Senior Index Editor (Iberian & Latin American Literatures), Modern Language Association; Hélène Huet, European Studies Librarian, University of Florida; and Jérémie Roche, Directeur des relations institutionnelles,

Event Sessions


Suresh Canagarajah

Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Applied Linguistics, English, and Asian Studies
Pennsylvania State University

Dan Connor

Associate Editor, Manager, & Senior Index Editor (Iberian & Latin American Literatures)
Modern Language Association

NISO’s roundtable discussions strive to be thoughtful and intentional but natural conversations.  A series of questions are composed and asked of the participants prior to the live event.  Sometimes we ask and address these questions directly,  sometimes the are incorporated within larger considerations, and still other times the conversation evolves into un-premeditated directions.  Here are the questions posed to the participants in anticipation of this event…

What are some of the special challenges you've encountered working with multilingual content and/or metadata, and how have you addressed them?

What tools--computer programs/apps, content management systems, machine translation, AI, etc.--are you using or considering to help with multilingual content? What kinds of tools do you wish you had?

Let’s talk about the difference between machine translation and a rote translation of the text, and the art of translation and how this impacts the meaning for the reader. Can you give some examples of how translation outputs vary in this process?  

What role, if any, do you see for a standards organization such as NISO in helping foster scholarly communication and information exchange in multiple languages?

To what extent should language be viewed as one of the dimensions along which we consider issues of diversity, equity, inclusivity, accessibility, and discoverability? 

What are the differences between translations and adaptations, and what roles might each play? Should we be thinking in terms of versions rather than either of those categories? 

English has been described as having become the lingua franca for the natural sciences, engineering, and many other fields, and one could easily extrapolate this status to academic publishing in general. What are some of the implications of this? 

What does this mean for scholars who don't communicate (or don't communicate as well as others) in English? Are they second-class citizens of the world of scholarly publishing?

To what extent do publishers act as linguistic gatekeepers of scholarly legitimacy as they make strategic decisions about which languages to accept submissions and publish in? When English is the lingua franca, or even just the preferred language, who is excluded? 

To what extent is there an ingrained bias toward publications by native speakers/writers of English, regardless of discipline/area of study, in publishing, libraries (in collections, reference, etc.), and in academic institutions, and in what ways might the bias be overcome or corrected for?

Discuss some of the socioeconomic dimensions of multilingual scholarly publishing. For example, what are the challenges and opportunities involved in publishing the work of scholars who are not from WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic) countries? Who bears the cost of translating or producing summaries of publications in languages other than the original?

How does the language(s) in which a publication is available affect impact factor  and other metrics? Are there alternative metrics and approaches to research assessment that take into account linguistic factors?

What are some of the issues with creating library resources and translating them for patron information resources.
Can social media help support scholarly communities that use less widely known languages as a forum for exchange of information and fostering collaboration?

Is there value (measured in any number of ways) to be discovered in translation of existing content across media and formats (print, video, etc.)?

Related Information and Shared Resources:

Shared by speaker, Suresh Canagarajah:

Consortium for Democratizing Academic Publishing and Knowledge - This Consortium of concerned scholars will focus on mentoring off-networked scholars on their manuscripts for journal articles as a first step in the long process of decolonizing knowledge.

Geopolitics of Academic Writing - A Geopolitics of Academic Writing critiques current scholarly publishing practices, exposing the inequalities in the way academic knowledge is constructed and legitimized. As a periphery scholar now working in (and writing from) the center, Suresh Canagarajah is uniquely situated to demonstrate how and why contributions from Third World scholars are too often relegated to the perimeter of academic discourse.

Shared by speaker, Dan Connor:

Manual MLA: Novena edición adaptada al español 
Traducción y adaptación de Conxita Domènech y Andrés Lema-Hincapié

Spanish language translation and adaptation of the MLA Handbook, 9th Edition, by Conxita Domènech and Andrés Lema-Hincapié

Available spring 2024 in paperback, as an ebook for individual sale, and on our online platform MLA Handbook Plus. Available for institutional subscription so members of your campus community can use it for free.



Shared by speaker, Hélène Huet:

ALBERT HUET’S DIARY - In 2016, the University of Florida digitized my great-grandfather’s diary of his experience and life as a soldier during World War I in France. One year later, they added additional documents such as photos, and I created a collection in the University of Florida’s Digital Collections.

Religious Racism In Brazil - The International Commission to Combat Religious Racism has released its revised map, spreadsheet, and report on Religious Racism in Brazil. These materials analyze 500 cases of religious intolerance against Afro-Brazilian faiths that have taken place since 2000.

Shared by speaker, Jérémie Roche:

The manifold costs of being a non-native English speaker in science in PLOS Biology

(In French) La question de la traduction en sciences sociales : Les revues françaises entre visibilité internationale et ancrage national, Yves Gingras

The Dangers of English as Lingua Franca of Journals in Inside Higher Ed - Scholarship is being damaged all over the world, write Mary Jane Curry and Theresa Lillis.

The Stubborn Parochialism of American Social Science by Charles Kurzman in the Chronicle Revie

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