Friday, September 22, 2006

Foundations of Translation - Lesson 1

(These are the notes for a course on Foundations of Translation I am teaching at the University College of the University of Denver. I'll be publishing the notes for the various lessons during the next few weeks. A short description of the course can be found here).

Difference between translation and interpreting


Types of interpreting

Conference interpreting
  • First used at the Nuremberg trials
  • Ability to wait for complete sentences, remember them while translating and speaking the previous one
  • Need to summarize and shorten the oiginal
  • Notes as aid to memory
  • Note-taking techniques (Herbert)
  • NOT: use of shorthand
Business interpreting (Role in business negotiations and meetings)
Community interpreting
  • Court interpreting
  • Medical interpreting

Ethics of interpreting

  • Interpreter as the "voice" of others
  • Interpreter as cultural bridge


University degrees for translators

Usefulness of university degree in translation (Respect accorded to degrees in translation from the major translation schools)
University-level degrees in translation
  • MIIS
    Most prestigious / Oldest program in the USA
  • Kent
    Important center for Terminology studies
  • Geneva
    One of the best programs in Europe
  • Trieste
    My "Alma Mater", first school in Italy, excellent
    Other (beware of the quality of many non university-level courses)

Books and publications on translation

    Books for course
  • McKay, Corinne: How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator, 2 Rat Press, 2006
  • Robinson, Douglas: Becoming a Translator, Routledge, 1997, 2003 (2nd ed.)
    Other interesting and useful books
  • Baker, Mona: In Other Words, Routledge, 1992
  • Hofstadter, Douglas R.: Le Ton beau de Marot , Basic Books, 1997
  • Chesterman, Andrew: Memes of Translation, Benjamins, 1997
  • Chesterman, Andrew and Wagner, Emma: Can Theory Help Translators?, St. Jerome, 2002
    Other publications
  • ATA Chronicle
  • Multilingual

Allied subjects

Translation quality control activities

  • Revision
  • Reviewing
  • Editing
  • Proofreading


Terminology management

  • Terminology extraction
  • Glossary creation

Translation studies (Theoretical discipline)

Media activities

  • Sub-titling
  • Voice-over

Technical writing



  1. Hi everybody,
    TermExtractor, my master thesis, is online at the address !!!

    TermExtractor is a software package for automatic
    building, validation and maintenance of glossaries in
    english language.

    TermExtractor extracts terminology consensually
    referred in a specific application domain. The package
    takes as input a corpus of domain documents, parses
    the documents, and extracts a list of "syntactically
    plausible" terms (e.g. compounds, adjective-nouns,
    etc.). Documents parsing assigns a greater importance
    to terms with text layouts (title, bold, italic,
    underlined, etc.). Two entropy-based measures, called
    Domain Relevance and Domain Consensus, are then used.
    Domain Consensus is used to select only the terms
    which are consensually referred throughout the corpus
    documents. Domain Relevance to select only the terms
    which are relevant to the domain of interest, Domain
    Relevance is computed with reference to a set of
    contrastive terminologies from different domains.
    Finally, extracted terms are further filtered using
    Lexical Cohesion, that measures the degree of
    association of all the words in a terminological
    string. Accept files formats are: txt, pdf, ps, dvi,
    tex, doc, rtf, ppt, xls, xml, html/htm, chm, wpd and
    also zip archives.

    Francesco Sclano

  2. A little typo:
    'Need to summarize and shorten the oiginal' (instead of original)


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