Authors: Małgorzata Czubińska, Monika Dzida-Błażejczyk, Katarzyna Krajewska, Barbara Walkiewicz and Justyna Woroch (translation trainers)
We all know the image – a man with a long white beard, dressed in a red robe, immersed in reading, a quill in his hand and a skull resting on some ancient books. We can see concentration on his face as he begins to write. This is Jerome of Stridon – one of the Church Fathers, translator of the Bible into Latin, the patron saint of translators – as depicted in Caravaggio’s famous painting. Despite the sixteen-century gap between Jerome of Stridon and today’s translators, their goal has not really changed – it is still to create a text in the target language that is equivalent to the original in terms of content, style and function, and that arouses the same emotions in readers.
Although the purpose of translation has remained the same over the centuries, the means of achieving the objective are different. Today, translators have a whole set of tools at their disposal to facilitate and speed up their work. The computer providing access to inexhaustible resources on line, glossaries and terminology databases, automatic translation engines and – last but not least – CAT (computer-assisted translation) and MT (machine translation) software – all this makes it possible to produce high quality translation in the shortest possible time. Without the use of CAT tools, which bring together several functionalities previously available through different software and resources, professional translators would not be able to meet their deadlines or comply with the strict standards set by their clients.
In order to prepare young translation enthusiasts to enter the increasingly demanding and dynamic professional world, we have designed two Master programmes at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. One is addressed to future translators (Tłumaczenie Pisemne i Multimedialne /TPIM – Translation and Multimedia Translation) and the other –to future interpreters (Tłumaczenie Ustne/ TU – Interpreting), with recruitment open every two years in September.
The new law on higher education in Poland that came into force on 20 July 2018 imposed several structural changes in the functioning of universities in Poland. These changes did not have an impact on the programme itself, but the law allowed us to restructure it and register it under a new name. The first change concerns the name: Tłumaczenie Pisemne i Multimedialne (Translation and Multimedia Translation). We wanted to distance ourselves from the old philological tradition. The change of name has increased the visibility of translation studies in the offer of the Faculty of Modern Languages and Literatures. It should also be noted that our programme is unique in Poland.
Translation and Multimedia Translation (TPIM) programme is part of the European Master’s in Translation network, established under the auspices of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation, which ensures the highest quality of teaching in accordance with European standards.
The language configurations available are as follows (Polish is always the A language):
French with English;
French with German;
German with English;
German with French;
English with French (only available for TPIM – Translation and Multimedia Translation);
English with German (only available for TPIM – Translation and Multimedia Translation).
We extensively modified the existing study programmes, thanks to which we have managed to create university courses that include practical subjects. In the case of TPIM – Translation and Multimedia Translation, we are offering, among others, translation of administrative, medical, scientific, economic, literary, tourist and technical texts or audiovisual translation and localisation), in the case of TU (Interpreting), it is consecutive, simultaneous and community interpreting, as well as other courses that will teach young graduates skills required on the labour market. All courses dedicated to future professional translators allow students to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to create and manage their own business and to plan their career path. Students also need to take a compulsory professional internship, which constitutes an opportunity to jump into the world of work. Since mastering new translation tools is essential, the Translator Training Programme offers courses that will allow future graduates to discover the secrets of SDL Trados Studio and Alchemy Catalyst software under the watchful eye of trainers who are also professional translators.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown perfectly how flexible translators and interpreters must be in order to cope with the new reality of remote meetings. Thus, our students – future interpreters – have the opportunity to master the interpreting tools integrated into videoconferencing software and platforms and to discover all their functionalities by putting into practice the knowledge acquired during their courses dedicated to new technologies in conference interpreting.
Faced with the opportunities and uncertainties of tomorrow, one might ask: what changes does the future hold? What professional challenges will our present and future students face? By offering our candidates original and unique training courses, continuing our efforts to present the profession and answer market needs in our courses and working closely with our partners in the EMT network, we try to stay ahead of the present in order to keep up with future trends.
Revision: Dallas James Hopkins, student of the Master’s degree in Specialized Translation (DIT) and IN.TRA member
Over the last few years, a group of lecturers headed by Prof. Silvia Bernardini and Prof. Paolo Scampa, of the Department of Interpreting and Translation (DIT) of the University of Bologna, has expressed the urgent need to develop a voluntary student translation initiative focusing on projects having strong social value.
This idea became a reality in March 2021 with the foundation of IN.TRA, the pro bono and student language service provider (LSP) of the DIT. In the following sections, we will describe the educational context in which it is inserted, the objectives, the structure and the steps taken in this first year of the project.
1. The training context in translation didactics
The last twenty years have marked a phase of important development in translation training. Scholars and lecturers have emphasised the need to harmonise teaching practice and standards in an ever-evolving professional world, and it has become increasingly clear that the skills to be developed to enable future translators to enter the translation market profitably require teaching approaches favouring their integrated development.
The combination of academic research, institutional commitment and dialogue with the social partners has led to an intense reflection on the concept of competence and to the flourishing of models in which the competences most closely linked to the profession acquire growing visibility The model elaborated by the EMT (2017), the most recent one, highlights precisely how these competences move from being sub-competences to independent areas.
Thus, alongside linguistic, and cultural competence and translation competence in the strict sense, there is a place for technological competence (relating to the tools of the trade), personal and interpersonal competence (encompassing the ability to work in teams and learn new skills) and competence relating to language service provision (including, for example, client relations and project management) (Scampa, Ballerini e Bernardini 2022).
In this scenario, translation scholars and professors began to realize the limits of an approach based on the mere exercise of translation, guided and corrected in the classroom by the lecturer (defined by Kiraly (2005) as ‘who’ll take the next sentence approach’), which does not take into account the skills and competences which are fundamental in the translation market and in the translators’ training. Thus, theories and teaching methodologies emerged which stressed the need for a more professionalising approach, which would be attentive to the natural complexity of the translator’s professional activity.
The idea was to recreate the translator’s professional reality in the classroom by simulating the activities, standards and interactions of the working environment, or by integrating authentic translation projects in study programmes, thanks to which students would have the opportunity to experience the same standards required by the professional world.
Among the main proposals made are the socio-constructivist approach in translation by Kiraly (2005), the Translation Project Using Translation Tools by Krüger and Serrano Piqueras (2015) at the University of Applied Sciences in Cologne and the methodology promoted by Daniel Gouadec at the Université de Rennes 2. Collaborative learning, authentic translation projects for authentic clients, reproduction of the professional work environment in the classroom, autonomy, sense of responsibility, are the elements characterising them.
In the European context, project-based pedagogy has taken on a central role in translation education thanks to the OTCT (Optimising Translator Training through Collaborative Technical Translation) and INSTB (International Network of Simulated Translation Bureaus) projects developed between 2014 and 2016, both aimed at facilitating the integration of professional practices in translator training, the former through the simulation of collaborative translation projects, and the latter through the creation of simulated translation agencies.
1.1. Translation service-learning
Before moving on to a more specific discussion of IN.TRA, it is necessary to add a further didactic element concerning an approach that has not yet been fully explored in translation didactics but is paramount for this project, the so-called service-learning.
Service-learning (also referred to as community based or community engaged learning) is an innovative pedagogical approach that integrates service or «meaningful» community engagement into the academic curriculum, and offers credits certifying learning from an active involvement in the community and work on a real problem.
Based on a process of reflection on the practical experience of civic engagement in the community and on experiential learning strategies, service-learning teaches civic responsibility and key citizenship skills (communicating, collaborating, planning, problem solving, achieving and interpreting information, gaining self-awareness, learning to learn) and strengthens communities, fosters solidarity, social responsibility and civic action.
Although service to and in the community is ‘voluntary’, service-learning is not a voluntary activity. While sharing the element of gratuitousness, the activity carried out, in a two-way exchange of knowledge and skills, benefits both parties involved, i.e., community and students. Therefore, quite differently from voluntary activities in which the focus is placed exclusively on the service and its recipient, in this case the student approaches the other party involved, the community.
Developed in the United States in the 1980s, and now expanding in Italy thanks also to projects such as Europe Engage (https://www.eoslhe.eu/europe-engage/) and UNICORN (https://site.unibo.it/unicorn-eu/en), service-learning aims to meet the needs identified jointly by students and the community by inviting students to apply the theoretical and practical knowledge acquired in the classroom directly in the field, in a multidisciplinary meeting.
As for the service-learning fields of application, experiences in translation education remain limited, even in the United States, where it originated and developed. Yet the voluntary and unpaid commitment of professional translators and trainees in the non-profit and not-for-profit sector is strong and can be interpreted as a sign of a natural spirit of civic commitment for the translator. Besides, the civic citizenship skills that service-learning aims to develop in students are also reflected in translator’s training. Problem-solving, self-assessment and planning skills are also required of future translators in the professional world (see 1).
In this context, it was decided to investigate the impact of service-learning application on the provision of language services by bringing together the theories and teaching practices of collaborative translation projects in a single, innovative service-learning approach, thus creating a more translation-oriented service-learning in which civic education and students’ curricular training are in fruitful harmony.
The elective course ‘Service-learning Laboratory’ was launched for students of the Master’s degree in Specialized Translation out of this will and need in March 2021.
2. Service-learning Laboratory: the course and the foundation of IN.TRA
The ‘Service-learning Laboratory’ was created with a virtuous aim: the foundation of a pro bono language service provider (LSP).
Managed autonomously by students under the supervision of professors, senior lecturers and tutors of the degree course, this LSP is aimed mainly, but not exclusively, at nonprofit, not-for-profit and NGO organisations, and the interactions generated by this collaboration lead to an important development of the key citizenship skills of participants.
The idea behind this project is that service-learning and translator training can be integrated and balanced. The evaluation takes place at two separate times and takes different forms in keeping with the service-learning principles and objectives of the course. Therefore, as far as service-learning is concerned, at the beginning of the course a precise thinking on the skills, principles and standards of this approach is proposed to create the necessary conditions for the activities that will follow with social and personal awareness, and in compliance with the service-learning standards.
With regard to training for the profession, the course introduces an autonomous and collaborative learning mode in which all the competences gained in the individual modules of the Master’s degree in Specialized Translation are deployed in an integrated manner to achieve a socially relevant goal.
As in an authentic LSP, students form a team divided into four working groups (project management, translation and revision, terminology, external communication) and are responsible for all phases and aspects of the service delivery, from identifying the client, choosing the tasks to be performed, defining quality assurance methods, and devising communication strategies. While these decisions involve all participants, everyone can gain different and specific experiences within each working group and understand which roles are most suitable for them. In fact, students take on different roles during the project, dealing with different competences and skills, as well as with different problems and issues.
Although the meetings are based on the foundation and management of a pro bono language service provider, ‘Service-learning Laboratory’ is still framed as a university course, making it necessary to evaluate the students’ activities. The evaluation takes place at two separate times and takes different forms in keeping with the service-learning principles and the objectives of the course. In a formative perspective, students are asked, at the end of each meeting, to reflect critically on civic engagement and personal growth, entrusting their ideas to writing a personal diary. In a summative perspective, the community involved participates in the evaluation by answering a specific questionnaire, while the students introduce a portfolio of their activities, focusing on the civic and professional skills they have acquired.
Although the creation of the language service provider required intense planning and development work, the students succeeded in founding IN.TRA – Inclusive Translation for Community Engagement, meeting after meeting, with a great spirit of collaboration and cooperation.
3. The first year of IN.TRA: a word with the founders
IN.TRA is a pro bono language service provider set up in March 2021 by seven students attending the first and second year of the Master’s degree in Specialized Translation (Department of Interpreting and Translation), namely Elisa Maria Billone, Marialucia D’Arcangelo, Marian Fabbri, Caterina Genovese, Lisa Porretti, Alessandra Turato and Annachiara Zabotto, who have fully taken on the role of founding members.
Service-learning plays a fundamental role within the LSP as active citizenship skills are developed through the language services offered. Change can be created, indeed, through words that change and IN.TRA aims to generate change by giving a voice to the voiceless and translating it into more than seven languages to cross borders and reach as many communities as possible.
In this regard, it is necessary to emphasise the concept of community and, above all, to explain how it is considered by the LSP itself. The community IN.TRA has chosen to address is a global community that, as previously stated, does not only cross territorial but also linguistic, cultural, social and economic borders. It is also a community that could be defined as ‘multidimensional’ because it does not only develop in a spatial dimension, i.e., through the physical and presential interaction of its members, but also embraces the new virtual dimension, which allows it to reach anyone who needs the services offered by the LSP and to respond instantly to appeals launched in emergency situations.
IN.TRA vision is to actively work together to break down barriers of all kinds and to build bridges that contribute to a truly global community. Instead, the mission is to put the team’s skills at the service of deserving national and international nonprofit, not-for-profit and NGO organisations, i.e., bodies that share the same values on which the LSP is founded and that, through their work, seek to raise awareness on issues of fundamental importance like, for example, the environmental and climate crisis and the protection of children’s rights in emergency situations.
Just as with collaborative projects, there is an exchange of skills and knowledge between the participants in the project. In fact, the skills the co-founders have are not static, but dynamic and constantly evolving and each founder is, indeed, called to get involved, to gain as much new knowledge as possible and, above all, to share their knowledge with the students who decide to embark on this path as well. This multidirectional exchange is the IN.TRA cornerstone, an essential element of the LSP that empowers the virtuous circle.
Initially, the ‘Service-learning Laboratory’ course consisted of a one-and-a-half-hour lesson per week, but it was clear, from the very first meetings, that this project had an impact on the participants that went far beyond university credits. Driven by the enthusiasm of such a tangible and, at the same time, ambitious objective, the founders identified the first two fundamental steps to be taken: it was first necessary to have a well-defined identity to offer their services to any client and make themselves known as an LSP. Aware of the fact that ideas and the language industry have different timing and rhythms from those of a university course, it was decided to create a chat group as the main channel of communication to discuss, share opinions and assign tasks immediately and independently of class time.
The choice of name IN.TRA – Inclusive Translation for Community Engagement reflects the sense of ‘within a community’ and the will to make the linguistic services offered available to anyone in need of a voice to continue to exercise active citizenship, acting as a bridge, a thread linking one end of the world to another, one community to another. This is the vision that IN.TRA wants to tell through its logo, a nucleus from which many coloured lines depart, all different, and connecting to other dots in the distance.
Medium and long-term objectives were defined in parallel with the naming and branding process like the creation of an official e-mail address, the definition of the type of community to which to propose as a collaborator and the identification of the buyer person, i.e., the target to be reached through the creation of a social profile.
The clients with whom to collaborate were identified as all those nonprofit, not-for-profit and NGO organisations whose work was in line with IN.TRA’s mission: working to break down any type of barrier (linguistic, social, economic) that hinders the access of disadvantaged communities to exercising their fundamental rights. At present, the LSP works mainly with organisations committed respectively to guaranteeing the right to education for children in contexts of war or exploitation and the enforcement of the UN Convention on the rights of the child which aims to protect the rights of children in various spheres, an example being the area of environmental justice.
With the growth of the LSP and the increase in the workload by its clients, it became necessary to divide the tasks in order not only to organise them, but also to acquire and exchange expertise among the members. Four working groups were identified:
Translation and revision
Social media management
All members of the LSP fill the roles of translators and proof-readers based on the requests, while only the founders have filled the other positions as of today. However, as new students join, even the other working groups will open their doors to new members.
The Social Media Managers created the LSP’s Instagram page and manage its content and social communication.
The Project Managers oversee organising the workflow, starting with the communication with the client, and then creating project folders and work list files, as well as finding a collaborative CAT Tool to meet the LSP’s needs.
On the other hand, the Terminology department creates glossaries per client with the most important terminology, any style guides based on client feedback and files to be aligned for TMs.
As already mentioned, dynamism and evolution are the cornerstones of this project and this LSP, therefore the working groups were conceived with a collaborative and knowledge dissemination, reciprocity between the LSP and its members in mind: the students learn as much as possible from one another, each one making their skills and abilities available, sharing experiences and knowledge, and acting as mentors for the others. Once they have learned the dynamics and the main tasks, the team members are then asked to change their working group so they can maximise the exchange of knowledge.
Regarding the company’s social media presence, an Instagram account has been set up (https://www.instagram.com/intra.unibo/ ) to follow clients and, at the same time, reach out to the students attending the Department of Interpreting and Translation in Forlì in order to bring the student community closer to the company. Thanks to this communication strategy, it was possible to expand the pool of collaborators who were asked to pass a selection process that included sending their CV and a motivational letter, an interview, and a translation test in the working languages of each candidate.
The LSP is continuing to grow even thanks to the service-learning course promoted by the Department, in which students taking part can contribute actively to IN.TRA’s development by expanding its pool of clients, consolidating its organisational structure and online presence, and implementing the LSP’s terminology resources from translated material.
In addition to these typical activities, IN.TRA has recently partnered with Russisti per la pace to participate in their student-based initiative, joining other students from the Department who have decided to offer their linguistic and translational skills to the communities who have been affected by the invasion of Ukraine.
IN.TRA quickly mobilised to support the burgeoning initiative, participating in the formation of a team of student volunteers from the Specialized Translation and Interpreting Master’s degree as well as from the three-year programme in Intercultural and Linguistic Mediation. Students from all three programmes reached out to help satisfy the need for translations, interpreting and linguistic mediation from and into Russian and Ukrainian for non-profit associations and NGOs operating within Italy as well as in the crisis areas. The social media management team decided to prepare for the expected rush of requests by posting on the group’s Instagram profile, helping to build awareness in the community as well as increase the number of volunteers. In the two days after posting, IN.TRA was flooded with offers from professional translators and interpreters who had graduated from the Department themselves and wanted to take part in this initiative.
Kiraly, Donald (2005) “Project-Based Learning: A Case for Situated Translation”, Meta: journal des traducteurs/ Meta: Translators’ Journal, 50, no 4: 1098–111.
Krüger, Ralf, and Jésus Serrano Piqueras (2015) “Situated Translation in the Translation Classroom” in Current Trends in Translation Teaching and Learning E, 2: 5–30, URL: http://www.cttl.org/cttl-e-2015.html (accessed 11 March 2022)
Translated from French by Lily Robert-Foley, Senior Lecturer, Master’s in Translation at Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3.
Prominently featured in the EMT competency framework, terminology for translation has drawn much attention over the last few years and has been the topic of numerous scientific publications.
Needless to say, in this area too, jobs have been radically transformed: digital tools make it much easier to create and use corpora, databanks or translation memories.
More and more translators also seem to be sharing their resources. Terminology work has apparently prompted them to break their (in)famous isolation to build networks and support systems.
When we took over the Master 2 course entitled “Terminology Research for Translators” at Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3 in 2017, we wanted better to prepare our students for this type of teamwork while providing them with the necessary theoretical basis to prevent new problems.
Our own observations (especially those concerning the glossaries included in the Masters theses over the previous years) matched those of the specialists: in practice, terminology work seemed to disappear into translation memories. Terms, words and expressions from everyday language were often all recorded together in a jumble, simply to be readily available at the click of a button (sometimes only because they are difficult to type).
However, relying on software to recognise terms and provide an accurate translation in these conditions puts consistency at risk, which can cause serious consequences, for both clients and translators, who will be held legally responsible.
So we resolutely turned to collaborative project pedagogy, reflecting the growing practice of sharing, while maintaining the requirements of rigour and theoretical understanding we deemed essential for effective practice, both for translation and for other language industry professions, such as technical writing and, of course, terminology.
Support players in the team
The organisation of the course reflects this dual concern. Terminology is covered during the third and last semester of courses (the fourth one being reserved for internships), with 13 weekly sessions taught in turn by a freelance translator and a lecturer. Each session, of one and a half hours, in French, includes half an hour of theoretical teaching and one hour of work in small groups with individual follow-up by the teacher, devoted to the creation of a short essay (in French) and a bilingual English-French glossary.
But better to depict the environment in which we operate, we must mention the special status of terminology in France — which stems from a proactive and centralised linguistic policy. A specific department of the Ministry of Culture, the Délégation Générale à la Langue Française et aux Langues de France (DGLFLF), is responsible for defining the French official terminology in all areas of economic and cultural activity. On a national level, the DGLFLF’s role is similar to that of TermCoord, within the EU’s Directorate General for Translation. Their decisions are published in the Journal officiel as lists of terms that must be used by all government services and their contractors.
The DGLFLF is therefore responsible for completing multilingual glossaries of the new Olympic sports in the run-up to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. These glossaries will be published on the DGLFLF website and made available to the French and Olympic authorities, on the one hand, and to the public (especially reporters), on the other. We have been very fortunate to establish a partnership with the DGLFLF, which offers internships for several of our students each year — and the experience has proven essential in renewing our teaching approach.
First match: first try
This collaboration started in 2019, with the participation of a student, a native Italian speaker, in a project of the Panlatin Terminology Network REALITER, for the publication of glossaries in Romance languages.
Then, in 2020, in anticipation of the Rugby XV World Cup in France and the 2024 Olympic Games, the DGLFLF and its partners set out to draw up a glossary of this sport and, as part of the partnership with our University, three students were given the task of preparing the glossary of terms to be integrated into the Lexicosports app.
The team included a native Italian speaker, a native Arabic speaker and a native French speaker, who had accepted this internship “for lack of a better opportunity” (his internship in a translation agency had been cancelled due to COVID), but who got caught up in the game, as did the other two, and whose connections in — or should we say on —the field proved invaluable.
The trainees organised their teamwork independently: determining the sub-domains; choosing the headings for the records (with the DGLFLF’s support and advice), creating a comparable corpus; drafting definitions, proofreading and revising. This involved contacts with professionals from the sports world: experts (athletes, sports journalists, coaches, club managers, and even a sports law specialist), rugby federations, in France and abroad — this professional communication being conducted in English and French.
This experience in intercultural project management was initially very experimental, but our students brilliantly managed to score the try, which convinced us we should redesign our course to facilitate the work of the next DGLFLF trainees and better to train the whole class in this type of collaboration.
New team, new rules
Initially, the course was designed around the classic terminology record and its fields (term, language, grammatical category, subject field and subfield, definition, context, technical and linguistic notes, with possibly some illustration and cross-references to other records in the glossary), and the students formed small working groups (of three to five people) to complete part of the final assignment. Then, it gradually evolved towards a collective work involving the whole class in a real project — drafting the glossary of Paralympic sports to be used by the next DGLFLF trainees.
We first asked our students to list the Paralympic sports, then to get organised and form small groups (eight in total), working independently on sub-fields. They were allowed and even encouraged to include various multimedia materials to create a comparable corpus, listing all of the sources in a shared online file. This corpus enabled them to identify and (manually, this year) extract just under 300 candidate terms, which were then brought together, along with their equivalent in English for each chosen subfield, in a folder containing the headings of a classic terminology record, for both languages, and completely managed by the students. All this information had to be accessible in real time and available to the entire class in a shared online file.
The students were able to practice project management in a semi-autonomous way, by defining common objectives, in order to provide a collective work file, in parallel with the other parts of their final assignment.
This new methodology aims at creating a semi-professional environment, encouraging the acquisition of integrated, transferable skills, including soft skills in professional situations (starting with the M2 internship). Above all, it makes the value, usefulness and purpose of the exercise clear to the students, which is essential to the learners’ investment, and it leaves more space for practice.
Over the previous years, what the students had valued about this course had been the opportunity for them to gain further knowledge of a specific field, and initiate their own specialisation. We could clearly see how the choice of subject area was key to the students’ engagement, their personal investment and, ultimately, the success of the project. We were not sure they’d all react positively to the prospect of spending a semester working on parasports terminology. However, the prospect of learning more about the work terminologists actually do, in a semi-professional situation, and the experience of the previous trainees were powerful motivating factors for the group, despite the distance learning conditions due to the pandemic and lockdown last autumn.
Second match: converting the try
The introduction of distance learning following the emergence of COVID has certainly made our task more difficult, but the results of a survey submitted to the students confirm our initial project: out of 14 to 20 respondents, 50% found the topics discussed interesting and we were pleasantly surprised to see that team work was one of the strong points of the semester (25%), including as a source of motivation. Finally, 20% appreciated the availability of the teachers, who were very much in demand, perhaps because some students were reluctant to ask questions during videoconference sessions.
Among the negative features, some students expressed their difficulty in grasping the link between the two parts of the course, the theoretical part focused on broader terminological notions (corpora, definitions, ontologies and domain trees etc.) and the realization of the group glossary (7%). This difficulty could be seen in the short essays, which were part of the assignment, as most of them hardly exploited the methods learned in the practical part of the course (no creation of corpora or ontologies, unlike the previous years, for example).
Great collective try, though
The fact the students were enthusiastic about the group work, involving the whole class and aimed at a real medium-term project, showed how beneficial their integration into a semi-professional environment and the dynamics of sharing tasks and results had been. Of course, distance learning may be an important factor, or reason for caution at least, since the students’ relative isolation during the lockdown may explain why they were so eager to work together, when that was not the case in the previous years — quite the contrary, actually!
However, the class did have to develop essential soft and hard skills to complete this project: project management and teamwork, of course; time management, speed and deadline compliance, competitive spirit, yet with cooperation and mutual aid, stress management (particularly at the end of the semester), flexibility, negotiation, listening, emotional intelligence, etc. The list of skills and competences used during this team effort is hardly exhaustive. Featured in the EMT reference framework as personal and inter-personal skills, they might very well help young translators make a difference in a highly competitive professional environment, with the rise of new AI technologies.
In the future, these digital tools will have to be better integrated into the teamwork, especially the terminology extraction tools, which we had to give up using this year. For the time being, the data created by the students is used in the CAT tools course, to teach the use of terminology management software (Multiterm). The collaboration between the Terminology and CAT teachers involves coordination between those two steps — establishing the glossary and discovering the various software programs. The students have appreciated the initiative, which we hope to take further next year.
Terminology, when taught as a team project, turned out to be central to our training. It enables the development of numerous skills and bridges the gaps between different disciplines and professions, as well as between the university and its social and economic environment. In this respect, the partnerships offered by TermCoord around the IATE database sound extremely interesting, and we have to thank our colleagues from Toulouse for sharing their experience during the EMT general meeting of October 2019 — they have definitely inspired us to envisage terminology in a new light.
In the long term, our objective is to provide our students with the theoretical and practical tools to understand and master terminology work in real-life, intercultural and multilingual situations, from the point of view of translation professionals but also from that of technical writers and, of course, terminologists, since exchanges and links between these activities are constantly developing in the practice of the profession.
In the rapidly evolving world of translation, this terminological and pedagogical experiment shows the benefits that can be gained from partnerships outside the University, be they with companies, freelance translators, professional unions, and institutions. This type of training underlines the potential of teamwork and involves the learners in new professional contexts, preparing them to confidently face further changes, including those we cannot imagine yet.
 Silvia Montero Martinez and Pamela Faber Benítez, (2009) “Terminological competence in translation”. Teaching and Learning Terminology. New strategies and methods, Special Issue of Terminology, 15:1, John Benjamins Company. 88-104.
English version adapted/co-authored by Ben Karl, freelance translator based in Los Angeles, California.
Some professional translators regularly decry what they perceive as an underappreciation of their skills and expertise. In the translation community, it’s no secret that certain “amateurs,” believing they have adequate knowledge of a foreign language and/or translation, decide to dabble in it themselves without relying on professional expertise, which they deem too expensive.
How can we blame them? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve weeded my own garden, lovingly detailed my own car, or painted a railing, depriving gardeners, car washers, and painters of a respectable source of income. Personally, I don’t have the slightest problem with this. It inevitably happens all the time, and (almost) no industry is immune.
Nothing groundbreaking, you might say, but enough to rub a fellow translator the wrong way. He recently condemned this sacrilegious practice on Twitter, calling out non-translators for a lack of integrity:
In English, the tweet reads: #Translators usually have the integrity to admit when they’re not absolute experts in the field a text that needs to be translated is about. Why don’t some experts recognize #translation as an area of expertise in its own right?
I’m not sure what prompted this tweet. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to come to the defense of the accused, who don’t appear to me as being dishonest or ill-intentioned. It seems that most people are simply unaware of the challenges inherent in translation.
In the retweet from yours truly, I hypothesized that this was an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect: novices—not knowing what makes a (good) translation—overestimate their abilities and dive head first into an endeavor they lack the tools for. What should we do, then? I say we break it down and explain it. So, let’s do just that, if we can, using an “enlightening” example.
Take the following product slogan, inspired by Jean Delisle, a thought leader in translation education and translation studies and the author of La Traduction Raisonnée.
“L’ampoule qui consomme peu et dure longtemps.”
Take a few seconds to translate this phrase from a light bulb manufacturer into English in your head. Done? Great!
If you don’t earn your living from translation, you might’ve thought of something like:
“The light bulb that consumes little and lasts a long time.”
At first glance, this is a passable attempt that gives us a rough approximation. While the result is grammatically correct, at second glance, there are several areas that can be significantly improved. You might be surprised to learn that this translation betrays the simplicity of the original and lacks the idiomacy of the target language.
Firstly, English and French use articles differently. Whereas French might use a singular noun with a definite article (le, la, l’, les) to express a general idea, English uses a singular noun with an indefinite article (a, an) or a plural noun with no article at all.
Secondly, in French, appliances can consume, and energy is implied. In English, this isn’t the case. Our brains can take the cognitive leap and add energy, but it would be better to be explicit. Then, there’s register, or type of language used in a given circumstance. The English sounds “off.” Would an English copywriter naturally talk about light bulbs consuming energy, or using it (or even saving it)?
Thirdly, we might ask whether “light” is an unnecessary qualifier of “bulb.” We typically have flower bulbs and light bulbs, but in this context, and given the likelihood there will be an accompanying picture, there’s zero ambiguity.
Lastly, little energy in a marketing context may sound better as a comparative, which gives us less energy. A comparative would also be a fine replacement for a long time, and it would cut three words down to one, giving us longer.
After going through this mental process, we might land on a functional equivalent like:
“A bulb that lasts longer using less energy.”
When phrased like this, the translation goes just beyond the French but still uses it as a starting point. That said, we can go further—after all, a “functional equivalent” is not necessarily a correct translation. Ideally, we’d know more about the manufacturer’s marketing tone, past slogans, the layout of the final ad, and more. There are dozens of factors we don’t have room to examine in detail here, but we need to add a marketing element to make the slogan a bit punchier.
How? By shortening, synthesizing, playing with the words and ideas. For example, English has the ability to create compound modifiers: lasts longer might become long-lasting, uses less energy might become energy-efficient, and so on. We can add, subtract, and rearrange to find something that fits, giving us this humble attempt, one of many possibilities:
“A long-lasting, energy-efficient bulb.”
To make it sound more like a slogan, another option could be “an energy-efficient bulb that lasts.” Alliterative, compact, but perfect? Certainly not. Especially since the original slogan isn’t all that catchy to begin with. But you get the idea.
We can draw two conclusions from this:
First, our analysis presupposes six things: knowledge of French, of course, but also general knowledge, logical reasoning, knowledge of English, a touch of creativity, and skopos, or the purpose of the text (advertising). Only when we blend these six elements will we get the best result.
Second, the low-cost option, “The light bulb that consumes little [energy] and lasts a long time,” is understandable, maybe even acceptable. But while a few lingering weeds in my flowerbeds or unsightly smudges on my car don’t bother me, everyone is responsible for defining their own needs and priorities, keeping in mind that when you do these “jobs” yourself, the quality of the end result might not be the same as what a professional would deliver.