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COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Professional Translation"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Berenice Cocciolillo
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 4:30 PM 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. This course is designed for both advanced non-native speakers of Italian as well as native speakers who are interested in developing their translation skills. The IT 301 prerequisite does not apply to native speakers of Italian.


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 NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
Thinking Italian TranslationSandor Hervey, Ian Higgins, Stella Cragle, Patrizia GambarottaRoutledge, 2016978-1-138-79978-3 Available as an e-book at Frohring Library: https://jculibrary.on.worldcat.org/oclc/932622893 Ebook  

Class participation and homework 25%
Graded translations (5) 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.
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 note that Friday, October 20 is a makeup day for Wednesday, November 1.

Please check Moodle daily for homework assignments and handouts.

Week 1 (September 4 - September 6)
Introductions – What is translation? What does a translator do and why is it important? 
Basic terminology.
 Watch video: “Nota del traduttore, episodio 1, Marco Rossani”
Read p. 7-11, Thinking Italian Translation, do p. 12, Practical 1, 1.1, and 1.2 
Read "What is Translation" and "Translation Competence" (in Translation, the Basics, by Juliane House)
The Satanic Verses: What happened to the translators who have worked on the controversial book?
Harry Potter English vs American versions
Read “Why Mistranslation Matters” by Mark Polizzotti

Week 2 (September 11 - 13)
Translating idiomatic expressions
The Amanda Gorman translation controversy
Read  "Translate meanings not words" by Tim Gutteridge
Thinking Italian Translation: read Ch. 2, “Preliminaries to translation as a product” (p. 15-22) do p. 22 Practical 2, 2.1 Assignment 1 and p. 23 2.2 Assignments (i) and (ii).
Read Thinking Italian Translation Ch. 3 Cultural Transposition (p. 25-31); do p. 31-32 Practical 3, Assignment 1
Read "The Odyssey translated by Emily Wilson review – a new cultural landmark" by Charlotte Higgins (The Guardian)
Listen to the podcast: "Il doppiaggio e il doppiaggese"

Graded translation one, due September 14

Week 3 (September 18 - 20)
Thinking Italian Translation, read Ch. 4 "Compensation” (p. 34-39) and do Practical 4.1
Read "The Translator Relay-Adam Morris"
Graded Translation II: Due September 26:  "Social Detox" (short story by Sara Vannelli)

Week 4 (September 25 - 27)
Thinking Italian Translation: read Ch. 10 "Language variety" (p. 90-96) and do Practical 10.1
Re-translating Gone with the Wind into Italian: Read “La nuova traduzione di Via col vento” (interview with Annamaria Biavasco and Valentina Guani)
Thinking Italian Translation, read Ch. 11 "Textual genre and translation issues" (p. 100-105). Do Practical 11.1, p. 105
Read "What Makes a Translation Great?" by Katy Derbyshire Which of the many definitions of what makes a translation great do you like best?

Week 5 (October 2 - 4)
Watch video: “Nota del traduttore - Episodio 2 - Monica Pavani”
Thinking Italian Translation, read "Scientific and technical translation" (p. 108-113) and do Practical 12.2
Read "Can Poetry be Translated?" by Emma Bowman, "The Art of Poetry Translation" by Thea Voutiritsas, and"Tradurre in Metropolitana" by Damiano Abeni

On October 16 each student will give a 5-10 minute presentation on their midterm translation project discussing:

·         genre and style of the source text;
·         description of how you approached the translation/any research that you did to help you with the translation;
·         main challenges/difficulties presented by the text, with a few examples of the solutions that you found

 Graded Translation 3

Week 6 (October 9 - 11)
Comparing two Italian translations of “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop
Comparing three translations of “L’infinito” by Giacomo Leopardi

Week 7 (October 16 - 18 - 20)
Hand in/present midterm translation project
Read and translate "La poesia: difficile da definire, una sfida da tradurre" by Ilenia Gradinello

Graded translation 4: due on October 26

Week 8 (October 23 - 25)
Watch documentary: Tradurre by Pier Paolo Giarolo
Write a 300-400 word review of the documentary Tradurre. You can choose to write it either in English or Italian.
Read “Some like poetry” by Wislawa Szymborska
Thinking Italian Translation, read p. 116-125 "Official, legal and business translation"; p. 125, Practical 13.1, Assignment 1

Week 9 (October 30)
Common errors in translating websites into English
Translation fails in advertising
Differences between translation, localization and transcreation
Watch video: “Note del Traduttore Episodio 3 - Gianni Pannofino”
Thinking Italian Translation, read "Translating consumer-oriented texts" (p. 129-133) and do Practical 14.1

Week 10 (November 6 - 8)
Corpus of Contemporary American English
Read "Doing Business and Crossing Borders in Translation" in Found in Translation by Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche
Read "Slang: cos'è e come si traduce? (Eurotrad blog)
Read "La difficoltà di tradurre una battuta" (interview with Giulio D’Antona)
Translate excerpt from the novel Meridian by Alice Walker into Italian
Translate into Italian the excerpt from “Boxes” by Raymond Carver.

Graded Translation 5 (due Wednesday, November 15)

Translate into Italian paragraphs 1-5 of the excerpt from All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

New translation of Manzoni's I promessi sposi by Michael Moore
Video: Interpreter Breaks Down How Real Time Translation Works

Week 11 (November 13 - 15)
Graded Translation 5

Read "Waging War and Keeping the Peace in Translation" (in Kelly and Zetzsche)
Getting started with Ted Translators/Subtitling a Ted talk: “Il potere e la responsabilità di fotografare vite umane”
Read "How to Write Subtitles: Tips to do it properly" by Sara Galluccio
Read (and listen to video): ‘Squid Game’ Fan Says Some Nuances of Thriller Lost in the Translation — Literally” by Althea Legaspi
Continue translating subtitles from "Il potere e la responsabilità di fotografare vite umane"

Week 12 (November 20 - 22)
Subtitling Tips from TED
Thinking Italian Translation: read 136-140, Revising and editing translations,” p. 142, do Practical 15.2

Graded Translation 6 (optional): Translate "Fare un film" by Federico Fellini (due November 28)

Each student will give a brief presentation on an article assigned to them regarding translation.

Week 13 (November 27 - 29)
Read "Polemiche all'amatriciana. Quelli che... Zerocalcare? Troppo romano" by Paolo di Paolo

Week 14 (December 4 - 6)
Optional Graded Translation 7:
Translate "Spaventose le fiabe? No, sono una terapia?" by Friday, December 9

December 11 - 15: FINALS WEEK Students will present Final Translation Project