Folks, folks! I have gotten myself involved in a grand and rather exciting project related to Science Communication, which followed my getting acquainted with Seattle-based scientist and science communicator Dr. Ivan Fernando Gonzalez (NOTE) quite accidentally, on Twitter. This project I referred to is borne out of Ivan’s desire to bridge multicultural communities in science. Christened Sciolang (its twitter avatar, of course, comes with its own hashtag, #Sciolang), this project aspires to initiate and sustain a conversation about sharing and extending science beyond English-speaking audiences. To the same end, Sciolang has been merged with a session taking place at a major science communication event, ScienceOnline Together 2014 (#scio14 on Twitter), scheduled for the end of February at Raleigh, North Carolina.
Ivan has been working for long to promote science communication to Spanish-speaking audiences. As an extension of those outreach efforts, to make #ScioLang a space for Twitter discussions on science communication enriched by non-English-speaking perspectives, Ivan has brought together volunteer #ScioLang Ambassadors, bilingual scientists who, amongst themselves, speak 12 languages other than English; I am glad to say that I am in this august company, pitching in with my mother-tongue, Bangla (ranked 7th in the world with more than 200 million speakers), and Hindi (the official language of India, also with close to 300 million speakers inclusive of various dialects).
This is Ivan’s instructions for the #ScioLang Ambassadors:
First of all, I am requesting your personal input. I want to learn from your experience as consumers and generators of science content, in English (as a second Language), and in your target Language. Second I need you to be a contact person, somebody who can give non-English speakers a voice in an audience of mostly English-speaking science communicators.
For that role I am asking you to help me reaching out on Twitter using your language and collecting the thoughts and voices of people, translating to English what you think it would add value to the conversation.
The linked instructions page has a weekly time-table, and the clock has already started ticking. I shall circulate this post to people I know, and try to see if they can contribute to this discussion prior to the conference. Ivan has suggested a gamut of possible conversation starters suitable for people in various professional roles:
- Do you perceive a bias in international journals towards preferentially publishing native English-speakers?
- What would you think is the value of publishing in the national language but adding abstracts in English?
- When do you use English and when your national language in research?
- Should English proficiency be a requirement for the scientific professionals?
- Do you think speaking English has given you international mobility, to do your research around the world?
To Science Communicators:
- Is it enough to translate from English? Do we need content made in the national language for a national audience?
- Why do you to communicate science in your chosen language?
- How many languages you deal with during your daily life? How do you deal with them?
- Tell me the most amazing science story that you know that never made it to the international news because of a language issue.
… And so forth.
If you speak a different language than ones in the list, please feel free to contact me (@kausikdatta22 on Twitter); also, don’t hesitate if you do find your language in the list. We are always interested in hearing from a diverse group of people. Please read and share as much as you can with people who you think would be interested to participate, perhaps even contribute, to this discussion. Together we can make this an informative and thought-provoking collaborative effort.
I realize that not everyone may be on Twitter. If that applies to you, please drop me a line in the comments, and I shall share my email address with you, and you can email me your suggestions and questions. Don’t worry; I am very new to this sort of effort, too!
QUESTION UPDATE: English as a medium of curricular instruction? See post.
NOTE: Many of you may be already familiar with Ivan; for those who don’t know him, Ivan is an enterprising researcher of many talents and great ideas, with a passion for Science Communication. Of a Colombian/Peruvian heritage, Ivan is fluently bilingual in English and Spanish, and one of his personal missions has been the sharing of the fun of science, unhindered by language barriers. Ivan is industriously active on various social media platforms (@gonzalezivanf on Twitter), and is associated with several blogs focused on science and science communication, such as his personal blog, ScienceSalsa, and the Seattle Chapter of the Science Online community, ScienceOnlineSeattle.