Thank you for your interest in translating the Moral Foundations Questionnaire into your language. Here is some advice on how to do it well to produce a useful and reliable instrument.
1. Translating individual words for abstract concepts is difficult. Each word may have many shades of meaning, and the shades often differ across languages. We recommend that you first do some open-ended exploration of the key terms that will play a role in your translation. For example, “right,” “wrong,” “respect” “authority,” and “purity.” Also, some items may have a different meaning due to your local or national context. For example, being proud of your country’s history may have a very different meaning in countries with morally troubled histories.
2. Don’t just translate — explore! Investigate your local moral domain. Are there any common moral concerns in your country that are not well-represented by our current list of five moral foundations? Are there any unique local virtues or moral concepts? This is an excellent time for you to think about flaws or gaps in moral foundations theory, or for you to investigate the unique ways in which your society has constructed virtues and values on top of the universally available moral foundations. (Please see below for a suggested questionnaire you can use to explore the moral domain in your language.)
3. Once you have collected some open ended data and noted some potential problem areas, you can create your translation. We urge you to check your translation with at least three other bilingual speakers. Words often have slightly different connotations to different people; the odds are that there will be a few words of phrases that others would render differently. Try to work out differences by consensus.
4. Once you have a verified translation, you should ask another bilingual speaker to create a back-translation — to translate your version back into English. Please examine the back-translation to be sure that it is equivalent in meaning to the original MFQ. If it is not, then see if adjustments are needed. When you have a successful back-translation, please send it to us, along with your translation of the MFQ.
5. We’ll post your translation at MoralFoundations.org, and we’ll give you credit for it. But please note that we might modify it in the future, based on feedback from other speakers of your language. Please don’t be offended: MFT is a collaborative enterprise, and we think the research gets better when all parts are exposed to constant critique. Our view is that nobody owns the translation itself — it is given for free to the research community. (Certainly, nobody should make any kind of financial profit from it.) However, we hope that you, as the initial translator, will get some research and publication benefits from it. If you conduct research in your country, we’d be glad to help you turn that research into a manuscript by providing our data from many other countries for comparison, so that you can examine mean differences, and differences in internal structure via factor analysis. You might also consider setting up a web-based data collection site, either at YourMorals.org or on your own site. We can help you with that, just contact us.
Recommended open-ended items, to explore the moral domain and moral vocabulary before beginning your translation. Please translate these questions, add your own, and create a questionnaire. Try to give it out to at least 20 native speakers, from different social classes and sub-cultural or regional backgrounds
1. In _______ [your country], what are the main words used to talk about good and bad actions, or good and bad people? What kinds of words are used in gossip, to praise or condemn people?
2. Think about how morality in ______is different from what you know of the United States. What virtues or values do you think are more important in ______? Which ones are more important in the USA?
3. What are the virtues or values that you most want your children to have?
4. What is the last especially “morally bad” thing that someone you know did?
5. What is the last especially “morally good” thing that someone you know did?
6. When you think about the following words, what other words come to mind as synonyms? What ideas or events come to mind, if any?
d. respect for authority
[Please add comments if you can think of ways to improve the translation process, or the exploratory questionnaire!]