Translating heritage: a study of visitors’ experiences mediated through multilingual audio guides in Edinburgh Castle

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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Heritage tourism is a vital part of the global economy. To attract more international tourists, many heritage sites provide multilingual interpretation. Previous research suggests that cultural adaptations in translations are essential to international visitors having a positive experience. This article challenges this view based on two theoretical premises: visitors are active participants in engaging with heritage interpretation, and their experience, mediated through verbal interpretation, interacts with other semiotics in the heritage site. This project used the Chinese and English audio guides to Edinburgh Castle as a case study. The methods adopted in this study include textual analysis, post-visit interviews, and the use of a custom smartphone application to track the participants’ locations and use of the guide. The findings suggest that users of audio guides in different languages used different learning strategies to process unknown and familiar information, and foreign visitors, in particular, drew from different semiotic resources to construct their visiting experience. This research suggests that the key to engaging with international visitors is a well-prepared source text, which interacts with a range of multisensory semiotic resources, and facilitates visitor engagement with the physical setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-295
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Heritage Tourism
Issue number3
Early online date16 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2022


  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Heritage interpretation
  • audio guide
  • translation
  • visitor experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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