Teaching translation (20 Jan 06)

Date: 20 January, 2006
Location: Callaghan Lecture Theatre, James Callaghan Building, University of Wales, Swansea
Event type: Workshop

Programme | Event report

workshop attendees

Past event summary

The maturing of Translation and Interpreting Studies as academic disciplines offers new opportunities to often hard-pressed Modern Languages departments.

In response, new taught MAs (and more recently, BAs) have been developed with a wide spectrum of academic and vocational orientations. The conference seeked to assess current approaches and likely future directions, including the wider impact of translation on traditional degrees. It provided an opportunity for sharing experience and pooling ideas, focusing on the following issues:

  • the UK market for Translation and Interpreting Studies
  • role of translation/interpreting theory and linguistics
  • language technology tools (MT, CAT, localisation and terminology tools, concordancers, etc.)
  • the place of literary and/or technical translation in language teaching
  • interpreting (consecutive, dialogue, simultaneous)
  • work experience and the interface with the language services professions
Programme for 20 January 2006
Time Session
09.50 - 10.20 Registration and coffee
10.20 - 10.30 Welcome and introduction
Andrew Rothwell (Swansea)
10.30 - 11.00 Translation programmes and the market
Kirsten Malmkjaer (Middlesex)
11.00 - 11.30 Literary translation
Martin Sorrell (Exeter)
11.30 - 12.00 Linguistics and translation theory
Mark Shuttleworth (Imperial)
12.00 - 12.15 Break
12.15 - 12.45 Work experience 1
Marie-Noëlle Guillot (UEA)
12.45 - 13.15 Work experience 2
Lisette Luteijn and Nancy Bams (Eurologos, Brussels)
13.15 - 14.00 Lunch
Software exhibition: Atril, SDL, Star
14.00 - 14.30 Interpreting
Svetlana Carsten (Leeds)
14.30 - 15.30 Translation technology
Pius ten Hacken (Swansea) and Jo Drugan (Leeds)
15.30 - 16.00 SDL International:
Global Information Management - Supporting the Global Ecosystem

Toby Newman
16.00 - 16.30 STAR software demonstration
STAR Transit - Top 10 Lessons to Learn for Translators

Damian Scattergood

Event report: Teaching translation

by Eva Schumacher-Reid and Sally Wagstaffe, Durham University

Andrew Rothwell (Swansea) introduced the workshop, identifying four themes: literary translation, linguistics and translation/interpreting theory, work experience and technology for translators.

Translation programmes and the market

Kirsten Malmkjaer (Middlesex)
Download: Notes (Word doc, 156Kb)

Kirsten Malmkjaer introduced her talk by emphasising that the choice of and' in her title was deliberate: translation programmes and the market impact on each other, influences and forces are exerted in both directions. The five areas she then addressed were:

  1. lay perceptions of the market and the profession;
  2. employer and student perceptions of translation programmes;
  3. academics' perceptions of translation programmes;
  4. the problems arising and
  5. a possible solution to these problems.

Points touched on included: translation programmes in the UK are often populated by non-native speakers of English; the issue of directionality (translating only into one's mother tongue) is not as quite as cut-and-dried as often thought; students and employers' expectations exert a significant influence on the content of translation programmes; there can be too great an emphasis on authenticity, on replicating professional situations in translation programmes and too little emphasis on providing education (rather than training); that it is important in terms of status that translation/translation studies should be an academic discipline. In Kirsten's view, translation tends to be taught in the UK at a level where programmes are too short to allow for both education and training of students and she suggested that an undergraduate programme could be the solution. Kirsten then outlined the content of the BA Hons. in Translation programme offered at the University of Middlesex which aims to offer education as well as training; language development as well as translation; theory as well as practice; a reflective approach through familiarity with theoretical aspects combined with the confidence acquired through contact with the profession (through placements, periods in translation schools abroad, visits from practitioners).

Literary translation

Martin Sorrell (Exeter)

Martin Sorrell described his experience of devising and teaching on Exeter 's MA in Literary Translation. The programme focuses on the translation of modern literary texts prose texts (fiction and non-fiction) in semester 1 and poetry and drama in semester 2 and is uni-directional (from other modern European languages into English only). Students can specialise in translation from French or Spanish (or combine these languages with German, Italian or Russian). The learning activities are based in large part on the approach developed in the Thinking Translation series of courses by Ian Higgins (St Andrews) and others .

Linguistics and translation theory

Mark Shuttleworth (Imperial)
Download: PowerPoint presentation (114Kb)

Mark Shuttleworth began by summarising the results of a survey he had conducted of 10 MA courses in translation offered in the UK which suggested that the majority of such courses include a linguistics or translation theory component (which was usually compulsory rather than optional). He then reviewed areas of linguistics which he had found to be particularly relevant to studying translation at postgraduate level: formal grammar, computational linguistics, corpus linguistics, lexical semantics, text linguistics, discourse analysis and pragmatics. As someone with substantial experience of teaching students to use computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools and with an interest in scientific and technical translation, it is not surprising that the first half of Mark's list highlighted those aspects of linguistics most relevant to using technology in translation (machine translation, translation management software, building glossaries). But he also highlighted the usefulness of text linguistics, discourse analysis and pragmatics in terms of enabling students to understand texts as multi-dimensional constructs, to reflect on issues of text-type and genre and to analyse issues such as speaker meaning in cross-cultural communication.

Work experience 1

Marie-Noelle Guillot (UEA)
Download: PowerPoint presentation (21Mb)

Marie-Noelle described a work-experience scheme which is offered at UEA at an undergraduate level as well as within the MA in Applied Translation Studies. Set up in cooperation with the Norfolk Museum Services and other national and international museums this module offers students the chance of a real-life experience of working as a translator under academic guidance and to see their work published.

The module runs over 12 weeks and includes stages such as consultation with the client, collection of appropriate terminology and use of CAT tools. At an UG level students work in pairs of one source language speaker and one target language (native) speaker which gives Erasmus students an ideal chance to be fully integrated. Students produce individual drafts which then have to be harmonised into one final text to be submitted to museum staff for scrutiny followed by final editing. In week 12 the final version will be delivered to the client to be printed and published.

The students are assessed on the translation together with a report covering the running of the project (in the form of a diary) including a commentary on translation issues and decisions made etc.

This is a highly motivating module giving students the opportunity to talk to clients, work to deadlines, experience team work, take responsibility for their decisions and see their work published but it also includes a process of reflection on the 'whys and wherefores' of translation which can only take place in an academic environment. For the university this is also a good PR exercise and the museums obtain good quality translations which they could not otherwise afford.

Work experience 2

Lisette Luteijn and Nancy Barns (Eurologos, Brussels)

Lisette and Nancy represented Eurologos, a multinational translation group with more than two dozen offices worldwide offering translations into and out of more than 40 languages.

The talk was centred around the concept of 'glocalization' (to glo balize and lo calize at the same time). To ensure that clients receive top quality linguistic services a multilingual service company needs to set up offices in countries whose languages are delivered to clients; these offices should provide translations only covering the language(s) of their country. Texts need to be translated and edited by native speakers living locally who keep up-to-date with the development of their language; this also avoids lexical interference errors.

The presenters went on to describe some practical aspects of translation work, e.g. in order to fulfil the requirements of ISO 9000 the need to follow the sequence of production - checking - corrective action - checking - validation. This means that in order to ensure top quality every translation must be carried out by a team of two translators, one of whom translates and the other one revises. In addition a terminologist is at hand to check on the accuracy of the client's terminology. Every translation runs through three quality levels: translation quality (grammar, spelling), adaptation quality (terminology) and editing quality (final translation and lay-out).

The presentation finished with a description of the work of the terminology department which produces and manages glossaries and translation memories. Lisette and Nancy also pointed out that Eurologos offers internships for graduates in all their offices.


Svetlana Carsten (Leeds)
Download: PowerPoint presentation (100Kb)

Svetlana described some of the differences between teaching interpreting skills at an UG level and training to become an interpreter on a PG level. The objectives of both types of course differ strongly with an emphasis at UG level on basic language work. She gave examples of teaching content and methods and explained their value, e.g. memory training and public speaking where the students start with easy speeches to promote the development of analytical skills and the ability to research which are essential for a professional interpreter; and consecutive interpreting with note-taking where students learn to take notes as aides and to encode and decode linguistic meaning through symbols. She also touched on the problems students encounter in the transition from working from memory to working from memory with note-taking. She maintained that in the UK interpreting training has been most effective at PG level.

Translation technology 1

Pius ten Hacken (Swansea)

Pius ten Hacken's presentation explained how students on the Swansea translation programmes learn to recognize terms' (as opposed to general or function words) in texts and described the terminology projects they undertake to develop their skills in identifying, collecting and organizing terminology for their own use.

Some key areas in t eaching terminology were identified:

1.Set up a terminology acquisition project

  • choose an appropriate field
  • select and describe terms in both languages (independently not through bilingual dictionary)
  • structuring the set of terms (creating relationships)

2. Practical use of the database

  • use of term recognition facilities in CAT tools (these only work if you have put in good terminology)
  • evaluation of terminology in the resulting translation

Translation technology 2

Jo Drugan (Leeds)
Download: PowerPoint presentation (122Kb)

Jo Drugan gave an overview of the training offered on the Leeds MA programmes in the use of CAT (computer-aided translation) tools. Students are trained to use Trados, Wordfast, LTC Organiser, Passolo, DVX, SDLX and STAR which they then use to complete multilingual group projects. This component of the Leeds programmes is weighted at 45 credits. She emphasised the importance of adequate resourcing to provide the most up-to-date versions of the software (and a licence for every student). She gave a brief demonstration of a typical group task and drew attention to the eCoLoRe site - http://www.ecolore.leeds.ac.uk an invaluable resource for teachers on translation programmes which provides sample texts and scenarios for pedagogic exploitation in realistic, task-oriented settings in a wide range of languages'.

SDL International sponsored session: software demonstration

Argyro Kyriakidou and Aaron Caruso

These representatives from SDL International presented the company, its products and services and talked about the recent merger with Trados. They described a situation in which, currently, translation is often given a very low priority by business and that by the time translations are commissioned the contents and design of publicity material have been finalised. It was argued that a more useful approach would be to plan translation from the start so that it could inform the original (source language) texts and design. For full information on SDL see: http://www.sdl.com

STAR Transit - Top 10 Lessons to Learn for Translators

Damian Scattergood
Download: PowerPoint presentation (375Kb)

After a short introduction to the STAR group (Europe's largest privately held translation vendor, founded in 1984 with its headquarters in Switzerland and 800 employees in 35 offices worldwide, with a unique focus on technology and services and leading translation software) Damian proceeded to present the Top 10 Lessons for Translators.

The first 3 are business factors:

  • Lesson 1 Never miss a deadline (and how and why to move it),
  • Lesson 2 Specialise (in a particular type of industry and in your native language) and
  • Lesson 3 Focus on customer needs (and, among others, finding the balance between accuracy and style).

The following lessons all deal with Translation and Process factors:

  • Lesson 4 was all about analysing terminology first, advising of the need to question the client before starting.
  • Lesson 5: Organize your TM (translation memory) structure.
  • Lesson 6: Check segmentation before translation, as this may make your TM valueless; it may make your translation difficult for you and may impact on your deadline.
  • Lesson 7: There is no perfect translation. Ask yourself questions as to who the translation is for, are there ISO standards to be met, who will proof-read and edit, are there other implications (legal, medical translations) etc.
  • Lesson 8: 100% matches are not perfect; this lesson concentrated on issues of using translation memories, proof-reading etc.
  • Lesson 9: Proofread in context, and finally
  • Lesson 10: Check your files before returning them; with regard to formatting, special instructions, spellchecks etc.

Damian pointed out that agencies rate translators on 3 levels: translation skills, technology and process skills, and industry skills.