Federici, F. M., Declercq, C. (Eds.). (2021). Intercultural Crisis Communication: Translation, Interpreting and Languages in Local Crises. Bloomsbury Academic. (pp. 280) http://dx.doi.org/10.5040/9781350097087

Crises, omnipresent both nationally and internationally, have become increasingly complex and need to be addressed through multi-party collaboration. One of the priorities for alleviating the devastating impact of local or global crises is the need to ensure appropriate and effective intercultural communication between victims, governments and field operators. Mediated intercultural communication through translation or interpreting in conflict-specific situations, or Crisis Translation, remain under-explored in the field of Translation Studies. Such phenomena drive home the need for research-driven studies that prepare us in advance to deal with the linguistic and communicative issues likely to arise in unexpected and unprecedented crises due to our increased interconnectedness. To address the increased complexity of intercultural crisis communication, interdisciplinary dialogue and synergies are required (Federici 2022; Lee & Wang 2022).

Intercultural Crisis Communication: Translation, Interpreting and Languages in Local Crises, edited by Federico Marco Federici and Christophe Declercq, is a telling, timely, and remarkable example in this regard. It is the result of the considerable effort of accumulating expertise and experience to lead us to acknowledge that translation, interpreting and languages can be employed as feasible and indispensable crisis communication instruments and risk reduction tools. The book comprises an introduction by the two editors plus 11 chapters, framed by three parts: “Part I Integrating People in Movement in Regional Crises”, “Part II Integrating Intercultural Communication in Crisis-affected Health Settings”, and “Part III Integrating Cross-National Representations of Local Crises”. In their Introduction, the editors present a thought-provoking overview of the necessity of harnessing language and translation as part of disaster prevention and relief – essentially by providing mediation and reducing intercultural communication barriers.

The four chapters in the first part approach topics relating to language mediation for migrants. Chapter 1 by Stefania Taviano investigates cultural mediation and translation practices in contexts of inequality and injustice involving the treatment of migrants in Italy. To avoid these pitfalls, this chapter suggests that it is critical to understand the languages and identities of the vulnerable migrants in order to overcome language, translation and interpretation barriers successfully. In Chapter 2, Vedrana Cemerin explores language mediation in refugee aid operations in Croatia through an analysis of newspaper articles and written documents and also by means of semi-structured interviews with language mediators who are involved in humanitarian activities. This chapter concludes that guidelines on language mediation are badly needed. Specialised training of more qualified interpreters and language mediators who work in intercultural crisis settings is sorely required. Chapter 3 by Carmen Pena-Díaz sets out to assess how meaningful the role of translators and interpreters working in conflict areas can be in preventing international terrorism. This chapter suggests that when translation is properly used, it can provide citizens in conflict zones with defence, security, and protection; moreover, during times of crisis, effective communication is critical to understand the crisis situation itself and also for all the parties involved to comprehend key information and guidelines. In a similar vein, this chapter points out the growing demand for language mediators who have work experience in conflict and terrorism situations, particularly those with knowledge of various Arabic dialects and other languages (e.g., Pashtun and Farsi). Daria Vorobyeva’s chapter 4 concludes this part by examining the linguistic and cultural integration of Syrian Armenian refugees in Armenia, their ethnic homeland. This chapter demonstrates that understanding the host country’s language and culture facilitates the diasporic Armenians’ access to employment and public services, and also helps establish social bonds with members of the host society groups, leading to the process of integrating into the society being accelerated.

The second part of the book is centred on health-related translation in crisis settings. It opens with a chapter by Vicent Montalt who aims to foster a dialogue between medical translation and crisis situations. By pointing out multicultural and multilingual communication problems and providing corresponding constructive and feasible solutions in health crises, this chapter calls for medical translation to offer a truly humanitarian and victim-centred aid and translator to be a “comprehension facilitator” or “victim advocate” in crisis settings. Chapter 6 by Izabel Emilia Telles de Vasconcelos Souza is the product of a study of the provision of language mediation in a healthcare setting by interviewing healthcare interpreters in the United States, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. The analysis of the large volume of data demonstrates that healthcare interpreters are still the most qualified professionals to provide appropriate intercultural mediation in health-related communicative contexts. Chapter 7 by Marija Todorova investigates the position and attitude of frontier interpreters during times of emergency towards refugees caused by violent conflict. This chapter claims that, in such situations, interpreters do more than merely translate messages between two languages: they empathise with those who are vulnerable, intimidated and stressed. This is why interpreters are so indispensable in multilingual situations in times of emergency, a need that will undoubtedly both challenge and inspire traditional interpreter training. Chapter 8 by Ceri Butler and Khetan Al Sharou explores the linguistic and cultural needs and aspirations of internationally qualified doctors with refugee backgrounds who wish to integrate into the UK’s medical system. This chapter designed a pilot training project to help these healthcare providers transit to the UK job market.

Readers will surely be intrigued by the third part, which is concerned with the way local crises are represented in different countries involving several languages, such as English, French, Greek, and Italian. Chapter 9 by Ashley Riggs describes corpus-based research conducted with the aim of reporting on the way stylistic decisions and rhetorical devices are employed to shape the perception of crises and the corresponding reasons and consequences. Chapter 10 by Maria Sidiropoulou investigates the translation of English–Greek crisis headlines and uncovers the cross-cultural variations in translating crises, revealing how translated discourse re-narrates events to meet the expectations of target readers and serve intended aims. Therefore, translation could be used as a coping strategy to (de)mobilise audiences. Chapter 11 by Federico Marco Federici provides a finer-grained analysis of the way a deliberate choice of metaphor, emergenza migranti (migration emergency), can shape the public’s perception of the migratory events and ultimately affect political debates and shape legislation in the context of ethical journalism and news reliability. This chapter suggests that Italy should lift this metaphor constraint when considering the issues attached to migration.

Overall, the 11 readable and professional chapters authored by both young translation researchers and established scholars from a variety of academic institutions pay sufficient heed to the roles of translation, interpreting and languages in crises. The book offers practical solutions which can be applied to similar disasters, emergencies, and other crisis settings, enabling researchers and practitioners to solve intercultural communication issues and mitigate the severity of crises. The theoretical and practical insights will also pave the way for navigating Translation Studies towards making a fuller contribution to risk reduction, disaster management and crisis communication. Moreover, this book is a wake-up call for bringing attention to the significance of adequate language support for crisis-affected populations and raising the awareness of translation, interpreting, and intercultural communication for addressing communicative barriers and alleviating suffering emerging from crises.

However, some demerits need to be mentioned. First, a comprehensive and extensive introduction to the roles that translation, interpreting, and languages can play in intercultural crisis communication would have been valuable. Second, the book will be more reader-friendly if all the chapters were to have a clearer structural organisation, that is, a uniform section and sub-section numbering format. Third, the citation formatting is incongruous, for example, on pages 194 and 222. In addition, the usage of English spelling is not consistent. Chapter 9 uses American English spelling, while Chapter 11 uses British English spelling. However, these minor blemishes do not compromise the book’s great contributions.

All in all, this book highlights the functions of translation, interpreting and languages in reducing adverse impacts caused by miscommunication in crises. It is an invaluable asset for those academics, researchers and students interested in translation, interpreting, linguistics, and multilingual intercultural communication in both local and global contexts. Therefore, it is highly recommended.



This work was supported by the British Council (Turing Scheme) and UCL SELCS-CMII Departmental Funding.




Federici, F. M. (Eds.). (2022). Language as a Social Determinant of Health: Translating and Interpreting the COVID-19 Pandemic. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Lee, T. K., & Wang, D. (Eds.). (2022). Translation and Social Media Communication in the Age of the Pandemic. New York: Routledge.


Shaoqiang Zhang

University College London, UK



Huihuang Jia

University College London, UK