|Title||Welcoming International Visitors - Communication and Culture|
It is extremely rare for an international visitor to museums and galleries in the UK to find information in foreign languages which is anything more than a relatively literal translation of an English source text. At the same time, a huge body of research and theory in the humanities and social sciences implies that major cultural differences are likely to accompany the differences in first language of international visitors. As such, in spite of the fact that museums and galleries often declare their intention to meet the needs of their visitors, it is fairly clear that, in this instance, they are at best meeting their international visitors’ linguistic needs whilst ignoring their broader cultural needs. With this in mind, staff from the University of Westminster together with a number of London’s major museums and galleries obtained UK Research Council funding to work on the production of leaflets in foreign languages fully acknowledging cultural differences amongst international visitors. The collaboration was intended to generate reflection on how such materials might be most effectively produced, what impact they might have and what forms of policy review museums and galleries might as a result wish to undertake.
The collaboration confirmed that cultural difference, and therefore difference in need, between visitors with different first languages is a simple reality. Translations, including ones which are culturally ‘adapted’ or ‘sensitive’, will always fall short of acknowledging the intercultural complexity of the experience of international visitors. Materials acknowledging that complexity are more effective. Museums and galleries need, therefore, to ask themselves how far and in what ways they wish to acknowledge this reality in the nature of the welcome they offer. The core of this article will draw on the outcomes of this collaboration, and also on aspects of translation and intercultural theory, to offer a critical exploration of some of the options museums and galleries therefore have in producing materials to welcome international visitors in ways which acknowledge the intercultural complexity of their experience.
|Keywords||international visitors, cultural tourism, translation, intercultural communication|
|Journal citation||2 (2), pp. 3-10|
|Publisher||University of Westminster|
|Web address (URL)||https://www.westminster.ac.uk/file/31411/|
|Published online||Jan 2013|