Language differences in qualitative research: is meaning lost in translation?

Eur J Ageing. 2010 Dec;7(4):313-316. doi: 10.1007/s10433-010-0168-y. Epub 2010 Nov 19.


This article discusses challenges of language differences in qualitative research, when participants and the main researcher have the same non-English native language and the non-English data lead to an English publication. Challenges of translation are discussed from the perspective that interpretation of meaning is the core of qualitative research. As translation is also an interpretive act, meaning may get lost in the translation process. Recommendations are suggested, aiming to contribute to the best possible representation and understanding of the interpreted experiences of the participants and thereby to the validity of qualitative research.