Source: Talking Heads


Climate change translation services and ecolinguistics have a crucial influence on climate change communication and ultimately how people perceive this global issue. This article discusses the importance of translation, language and ecolinguistics in fighting climate change.

The Importance Of Climate Change Translation:

Climate change is a global problem. It’s not a case of a country being more affected than the other, or one having more responsibility to fix it than another. Put simply every country will be equally affected equally one way or another, and we have a global responsibility to act. For global issues, translation and interpretation is key to bridging the cross-cultural and cross-linguistic communication about climate change.

Different developed and developing countries have their stance on climate change, given their different economic and political agendas. Climate change translation and interpretation allow countries to be on the same page when accepting climate change as a problem. However, forming mutual agreements about approaching climate change is a whole other ball game. For example, there is contention around how CO2 emissions should be reduced and how developed countries can help developing countries. Governments can’t move forward and push for action without a concise and consistent global approach to combating climate change.

It’s important to note that the discourse around climate change influences our understanding and perception of it. Climate change discourse is different in every country, with media and political platforms framing it differently to support certain narratives. Therefore, translation is only part of the solution. It needs to be paired with linguistics – the study of language.

The Role Of Language:

As mentioned already, the choice of words people (and countries) uses to describe and talk about climate change influences people’s perception of it. A great example would be how the term ‘climate change’ soon replaced ‘global warming’. With many sceptics finding flaws in the global warming theory, this rebrand (so to speak) was needed to push for action better.

When groups in society debate over issues such as climate change, word choice and language are used to support their narratives and opinions. This has been significantly researched in sociolinguistics – the role of language in defining relations in society. In terms of climate change, ecolinguistics would be the critical area of study.

What Is Ecolinguistics?

Developed in the 1990s by Arran Stibbe, Ecolinguistics is an emerging modern branch of linguistics. It aims to critically analyse a community’s written and spoken language and relate it to the environment in which said community lives and thrives. The analysis can be conducted on a global or local scale, establishing a link between the language used by a community and their environment.

Written and spoken language influences one’s behaviour. Therefore, ecolinguistics allows researchers to draw conclusions on which words influence specific environmental issues and climate change behaviours. It provides an opportunity to analyse how the media and political discourse frame environmental issues and climate change towards various audiences in climate change communication.

In Conclusion:

Where translation and language can help us understand the different experiences and narratives of those affected and vulnerable to climate change across the world, ecolinguistics can help identify harmful narratives and discourse that underpin an ecologically destructive society. Consequently, this expertise will help us frame climate change so that every country can find common ground to move forward together.


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