Undertaking Effective Cross-Language Questionnaire-Based Survey in Illiterate and Semi-Illiterate Rural Communities in the Developing Regions: Case of Communal Cattle Farmers in Vhembe District of Limpopo Province, South Africa


  • Mavhungu Abel Mafukata University of the Free State, South Africa. Email: drmafukata@gmail.com




Cross-language, Data collection, Interviews, Language, Translation, Tshivenda.


This paper investigated similarities and differences between questionnaire instruments – Source language instrument (untranslated) and target language (translated) instrument employed to gather research data in a cross-cultural background in the developing regions, with special reference to illiterate and semi-illiterate rural communities in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. This paper premises that there are differences of responses between the responses sourced from a source language version questionnaire and that of the translated cross-language version questionnaire. The results of this paper revealed that the majority (60%) of the responses differed in both sets of questionnaires while some (40%) responses on both sets of questionnaires were similar. The implication is that collecting survey data from a cross-language translated version questionnaire might provide a better and reliable data collection option than collecting survey data from a directly translated – or untranslated version during interviews. The differences appear to be influenced mainly by the socio-demographic factors of the respondents. The noted differences might affect the over-all quality of results of the particular survey. This paper argues that such differences might have implications for the design of policy and strategic intervention measures since such interventions might have emanated from flawed results.

Author Biography

  • Mavhungu Abel Mafukata, University of the Free State, South Africa. Email: drmafukata@gmail.com
    Centre for Development Support - Associate Researcher


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