The Emotional Labour of Translations and Interpretations in Music Therapy Research and Practice


  • Nsamu Urgent Moonga University of Pretoria, South Africa


language imperialism, Southern Africa, BaTonga, multilingualism, music therapy, translation, multicultural, music therapy research, language and power


Language is a natural human system of conventionalised symbols with precise meanings that allows people to express and communicate their innermost thoughts and feelings, sensibilities and subjectivities, and carry out several social roles. Each human constellation develops a language suitable to the lifeworld. The diversity of languages is something to be celebrated, except when language is used as a tool for dominance. While the power of the English language is well recognised, the burden of using the English language by non-native English speakers and the expectation to use English in daily professional interactions are rarely examined in music therapy. Some people have written varied narratives of their encounters with power and language in this issue. This article, however, focuses on the labours of translations and interpretations in accommodating the dominant English language in music therapy research and practice. Using anecdotes and data from my postgraduate research, I demonstrate how the balance of power in the dominance of English in music therapy scholarship benefits the first-language speakers of the English language at the logistical and emotional expense of non-native English speakers.

Author Biography

Nsamu Urgent Moonga, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Nsamu Moonga is a PhD student at the University of Pretoria. His current research attempts to appreciate African ways of understanding and using the musical arts therapeutically. The indigenous research-based study explores the possibilities of Africa's integrated health approaches and innovation.

Photo of author Nsamu Moonga




How to Cite

Moonga, N. U. (2022). The Emotional Labour of Translations and Interpretations in Music Therapy Research and Practice. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 22(3). Retrieved from