Navigating Nuances of Language and Meaning: Challenges of Cross-Language Ethnography Involving Shona Speakers Living With Schizophrenia
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AbstractFor people living with schizophrenia, their experience is personal and culturally bound. Focused ethnography enablesresearchers to understand peoples experiences in-context, a prerequisite to providing person-centered care. Dataare gathered through observational fieldwork and in-depth interviews with cultural informants. Regardless of theculture, ethnographic research involves resolving issues of language, communication, and meaning. This article discussesthe challenges faced by a bilingual, primary mental health nurse researcher when investigating the experiences ofpeople living with schizophrenia in Zimbabwe. Bilingual understanding influenced the research questions, translationof a validated survey instrument and interview transcripts, analysis of the nuances of dialect and local idioms, andconfirmation of cultural understanding. When the researcher is a bilingual cultural insider, the insights gained can bemore nuanced and culturally enriched. In cross-language research, translation issues are especially challenging when itinvolves people with a mental illness and requires researcher experience, ethical sensitivity, and cultural awareness.