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Book: Navigating Universalism and Particularism in the Study of Religions

Chapter: Translation and Main Categories in the Study of Religions: The Case of "Religion" and "Spirituality" in West Bengal

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.44295


The translation of research instruments presents a window to the many difficult conceptual problems related to the commensurability or incommensurability. We often face them in cross-cultural studies involving different cultures and languages. In this chapter we examine the process of translating the Faith Q-set (FQS) into Bengali. This case study reflects many of the issues that we came across working with translations of the Faith Q-set from English to eleven different target languages. The impact of linguistic, conceptual and cultural differences become evident in this study, and we question the ideal that one can overcome cross-cultural boundaries and modestly prefer to refer to the quality of a translation process with respect to target groups. Yet, in contrast to the impact of cultural differences and with the support form a translingual practice approach (Liu 1995; Herrmann 2016) we emphasize that comprehensibility and understanding still emerge through different forms of linguistic contact, interaction and interpretation. This happens on a historical and societal level as well as on a micro level within the interviews.

Chapter Contributors

  • Måns Broo ( - mbroo) 'Åbo Akademi University '
  • Marcus Moberg ( - mmoberg) 'Åbo Akademi University'
  • Peter Nynäs ( - pnynas) 'Åbo Akademi University'
  • Mallarika Sarkar Das ( - msarkardas) 'University of Calcutta'
  • Sohini Ray ( - rsohini) 'Indian Institute of Management, Joka'