Οn Friday, 26 the presentation of the catalogue of the exhibition Face Forward …into my home was realized at the EMST Screening Room.
Speakers at the presentation were Mr. Dimitrios Papadimoulis, Vice President of the European Parliament, Ms. Kirki Kefalea, Associate Professor of Comperative Literature of the University of Athens and Mr. George Exadaktylos, Linguist.
Before the presentation a guided tour to the exhibition was realized by the curators Marina Tsekou and Giannis Vastardis
Face Forward …into my home was designed and implemented by EMST’s Education Department, in collaboration with UNHCR GREECE, and is funded by the European Commission – Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid Operations – ECHO (ECHO), in the framework of the ESTIA programme, providing urban accommodation and cash assistance to thousands of asylum seekers and refugees in Greece.
Catalogue text from George Exadaktylos, Linguist
Face Forward…into my home
The editor’s experience from a 1st person point of view
(‘My own’ Face Forward)
My main work for the needs of the specific exhibition of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (EMST) was the editing of 20 written texts in M.G. to be included in the exhibition’s printed catalogue as well as the development of texts for its audio materials.
What follows has been based on my professional, scientific, and personal experience; in no way are they results of proper scientific research but mostly of basic and empirical qualitative and quantitative data analysis.
4 challenges I faced when editing
- The texts had shifted kind.
Initially, the texts were long, oral ones, with narratives of the participating refugees, which were audio recorded and transcribed. During transcription, the oral texts were converted into written ones. As a result, the texts edited were considerably shorter than the initial ones and applied different textual conventions from the initial ones.
- The texts had shifted language.
The initial oral texts were products of simultaneous interpretation from the participating refugees’ native languages to M.G. Therefore, the texts transcribed were in M.G. As a result, the texts edited, against the initial ones, presented definite differences in terms of syntactic and vocabulary form and potential differences in content.
- The texts had changed in terms of completeness.
After interpretation from the participating refugees’ native languages to M.G. and conversion from oral to written speech, the texts edited showed various degrees of completeness against the initial ones, as, among others, repetitions, regressions, pauses, and content irrelevant to the purposes of Face Forward…into my home had been removed.
- The texts were products of guided production of speech.
The initial oral texts were produced during workshops organized by EMST. During these workshops, one or two moderators would ask the participating refugees-interlocutors to talk about their experiences after viewing specific works of art. On the one hand, the refugees did not face any restrictions when producing speech; on the other, since their speech was caused by works of art, it was relevant to the purposes of Face Forward…into my home and aimed to the exhibition’s successful implementation. As a result, both the initial oral texts and the resulting written edited ones did not convey random experiences and views of the participating refugees and I, as editor, a number of times, had to look for the texts’ deeper propositional content (that is, the intention of the speakers at the moment of speaking).
3 important characteristics of the texts I edited
- The texts are varied.
Each text, be it written or oral, conveys to its receiver, among others, experiences and views of the speaker. The variety of the texts edited is due to the variety of the speakers who produced the initial oral texts in terms of the following factors:
- Gender (used in its broader sense; the terms does not imply ‘natural’ gender): The overwhelming majority of the speakers were male (70%) and the minority female (30%).
- Age (regardless of gender): The majority of the speakers (55%) were adults (25-40 y.o.), followed by (30%) teenagers/adolescents (13-18 y.o.); young adults (18-25 y.o.) and middle aged persons participated to a clearly lesser extent (10% and 5% respectively).
- Academic background and professional experience: Although I did not have access to such biographical data for each of the speakers, the form and content of the texts edited showed that the speakers’ majority have completed tertiary or secondary education and that all of them were professionally or academically active in their respective countries of origin. In addition, the form and content of the texts edited showed that all of them have what is commonly called as ‘broad education’ as this is evident in their overall manner of expression (effective use of figures of speech, imagery, emphasis, language register, and others).
- The texts carry mostly a positive connotative weight.
A basic and empirical qualitative and quantitative analysis of the vocabulary used in the texts edited showed that positive connotations overwhelmed negative ones. For the needs of the specific analysis, first, words/phrases, either individual ones or in semantically related groups, were identified in the texts edited, and, second, they were classified as having a positive and a negative connotation. What is worth noting is that of the 254 words/phrases identified in total, approximately 90% carried a positive connotation, with their majority (33%) belonging to the same semantically related group with members words such as “love, loved one(s)1, etc”; what is also interesting is that words such as “music”2 and “homeland/fatherland”3, both showed up exactly the same (10%). Concerning the remaining 10% of words/phrases with a negative connotation, most of them (50%) were the word “war”4, whereas there were no words (0%) such as “enemy”5 or other words belonging to the same semantically related group (such as “hostile”, “hostility”6, etc.)
The following table shows the distribution of the total of 254 words/phrases in the texts edited, concerning their negative and positive connotation:
Words/phrases [EN transl.]
|Connotation||Frequency of occurrence
(# times occurred)
|αγάπη, αγαπημένος, κ.ά.||love, loved one(s) etc.||Positive||76||29,9|
|παιδί, παιδιά, παιδικός, παιδικότητα||child, children, childishness||Positive||31||12,2|
|δεν θέλω||(I) don’t want||Negative||7||2,7|
|μόνος, μοναξιά, κ.ά.||alone, loneliness, etc||Negative||5||1,9|
|εχθρός, εχθρικός, εχθρικότητα, κ.ά.||enemy, hostile, hostility, etc||Negative||0||0|
|Positive and negative total:||254||99,6|
- The texts show that participants are hopeful for their future.
A basic and empirical qualitative and quantitative analysis of the propositional content of the texts edited showed the following:
- Although, traditionally, all of us distinguish time into three periods (1: past – 2: present – 3: future), participating refugees distinguish it into four periods (1: past – 2: transition from past to present – 3: present – 4: future); they define, as an additional, discernible period, the one during which they moved from the culture and geographical location of their country of origin to Greece. The addition of the specific time period defines them apart from the rest of us; what is more, since Greece may not be their final destination, the specific time period may be repeated at least once in their lifetime.
- Participating refugees describe with accuracy and precision each of the above four periods of time, either as absolutely positive or absolutely negative or as both positive and negative.
- Participating refugees view their future positively, exactly as they view/are reminiscent of their past; this is a characteristic which, in terms of propositional content, on one hand, attributes to their texts a circular flow and not a linear one and, on the other, shows that refugees view their future with hope and optimism.
The following shape shows the above:
 M.G.: «αγάπη, αγαπημένος»
 M.G.: «μουσική»
 M.G.: «πατρίδα»
 M.G.: «πόλεμος»
 M.G.: «εχθρός»
 M.G.: «εχθρικός», «έχθρα»