Publication details [#64238]

Delgado Luchner, Carmen. 2018. Contact zones of the aid chain. The multilingual practices of two Swiss development NGOs. Translation Spaces 7 (1) : 44–64.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


Switzerland is a multilingual country with four official languages. As such, NGOs and other organizations based in Switzerland tend to have a comparatively high awareness of multilingualism. Based on in-depth interviews with representatives of two Swiss development NGOs, Caritas Switzerland and the Fédération genevoise de coopération, this paper aims to explore how Swiss development NGOs work multilingually at home and abroad. By zooming in on the language practices that are used in the different contact zones along the aid chain, this paper aims to provide a more nuanced picture of multilingualism in development projects. The two case studies show that professional translation is merely one of several strategies used to overcome language barriers in the aid chain. Others include ad hoc language mediation practices, reliance on bilingual staff and the use of a lingua franca.