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COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Professional Translation"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Berenice Cocciolillo
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 4:30-5:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisites: Placement or IT 301 or permission of the instructor; EN 110
OFFICE HOURS: TTH 11:00-12:00


This course is designed to introduce students to the world of professional translation. Though it will cover some of the fundamental theoretical concepts of translation, the focus will be on teaching practical translation skills and processes. The course will concentrate mainly on translating from Italian to English, but also vice versa, depending on student enrollment. The aim of the course is to enable participants to produce translations that reflect grammatical accuracy, a command of idiomatic language, cultural sensitivity, and appropriate register and tone. Although mainly designed for advanced non-native speakers of Italian, the course may also be taken by native speakers who are interested in developing their translation skills.


After an introduction to different theories of translation, we will compare the grammar and structures of English and Italian, especially in terms of the linguistic structures that present the greatest challenges for translators.  Students will work individually and in small groups in order to produce and discuss translations and to assess each other’s work. Texts will be chosen from a range of subjects, including topics related to the students’ major. These may include: journalistic/media texts on current political, social, economic and cultural issues; social sciences; international relations; business and economics; film (subtitling); art and architecture; law; medical/scientific texts; website and social media translation. Students will also be introduced to literary translation.


Upon successfully completing this course, students should be able to:

• Adapt translation strategy according to subject matter and audience

• Research specialized terminology relevant to specific areas of study

• Produce well-researched, accurate translations

• Evaluate the quality of a translation

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Thinking Italian Translation: A course in translation method (Second edition)Stella Cragie, Ian Higgins, Sándor Hervey, Patrizia GambarottaRoutledge978-1-138-79978-3  

Class participation and homework 25%
Weekly translations 25%
Midterm translation project 25%
Final translation project 25%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs from May 6 through 10.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


NOTE: This is a tentative outline of the material to be covered during the semester, subject to change according to student orientation, background, and needs.

Please check Moodle daily for homework assignments and handouts.

Please note that February 15 is a makeup day for the April 22 holiday and March 8 is a makeup for the May 1 holiday.

Week 1 (January 21 - 23)

Introductions – What does a translator do and why is it important? Basic terminology;
Read Thinking Italian Translation, chapter 1: “Preliminaries to translation as a process;” chapter 2: “Preliminaries to translation as a product;” “Saving Lives and Protecting Rights in Translation” in Kelly and Zetzsche

Week 2 (January 28 - 23)
Cultural transposition and compensation – When a literal translation won’t work
Read Thinking Italian Translation, chapters 3 and 4; “Translation, Community, Utopia” by Lawrence Venuti, in Venuti
Read "The Odyssey translated by Emily Wilson review – a new cultural landmark" by Charlotte Higgins (The Guardian)

Week 3 (February 4 - 6)
The formal properties of texts: phonic/graphic and prosodic issues in translation - Read Thinking Italian Translation, chapter 5
Grammatical and sentential Issues in translation – Common pitfalls in translating Italian to English
Read Thinking Italian Translation, chapter 6
Read "Translate Meanings Not Words" by Tim Gutteridge

Week 4 (February 11 - 13 - 15)
The formal properties of texts: discourse and intertextual issues in translation - Thinking Italian Translation, chapter 7
Literal meaning and translation issues - Thinking Italian Translation, chapter 8
Read "Possibilities and Impossibilities of Translation" by J. House

Week 5 (February 18 - 20)
Connotative meaning and translation issues - Thinking Italian Translation, chapter 9
Language Variety: translation issues in register, sociolect, and dialect
Read Thinking Italian Translation, chapter 10; “The Search for a Native Language: Translation and Cultural Identity” by Annie Brisset, in Venuti; “The Politics of Translation” by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, in Venuti

Week 6 (February 25 - 27)
Textual genre and translation issues - Thinking Italian Translation, chapter 11
Scientific and technical translation; Computer-assisted translation
Read Thinking Italian Translation, chapter 12

Week 7 (March 4 - 6 - 8)
Hand in/present midterm translation project.
Watch film Tradurre by Pier Paolo Giarolo
Translating business and economics texts - Thinking Italian Translation, chapter 13; “Doing Business and Crossing Borders in Translation” in Kelly and Zetzsche
Translating consumer-oriented texts - Thinking Italian Translation, chapter 14

March 11 - 15 Spring Break

Week 8 (March 18 - 20)
Translating art and architecture texts

Week 9 (March 25 - 27)
Translating journalistic/media texts

Week 10 (April 1 - 3)
Translating political science and international relations texts
Read “Waging War and Keeping the Peace in Translation,” in Kelly and Zetzsche 

Week 11 (April 8 - 10)
Subtitling films

Week 12 (April 15 - 17)

Subtitling films 

Week 13 (April 24)
Translating for the web; translation or localization?
Read “Connecting the World and Advancing Technology in Translation” in Kelly and Zetzsche
Read "'Bob's Your Uncle?' The Difficulty Posed by Idiomatic Translation" by Jake Schild

Week 14 (April 29)
Revising and editing translation - Thinking Italian Translation, chapter 15
Read "The Task of the Translator" by Walter Benjamin