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Learning LSP by collaborating: How to link student writers and journalists, usability testers, and translators internationally, interlingually, and interculturally through learning-by-doing projects

Brief description

With a view to training LSP trainers in the value of arranging student collaborations and the ease with which it can be done, this workshop is designed to offer two 90-minute sessions at which participants can learn how to set up and run their own international, interlinguistic, and/or intercultural collaborations by forming students from their courses into cross-cultural virtual teams (CCVTs). Each session will begin with an overview of the variations in the particular type of collaboration (Session 1: writing-translation, Session 2: translation-editing) and its typical procedures before moving on to questions from the audience and recommendations from the workshop organizers.


Wednesday, 8 July 2015


First slot: writing-translation collaborations

Important information

> Conveners:

Bruce Maylath (North Dakota State University)

Elisabet Arno Macia (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya)

Maria Teresa Musacchio (Università di Padova)

Giuseppe Palumbo (University of Trieste)



The first 90-minute session will focus on collaborative projects that begin with writers and then move on to translators, sometimes with co-authors and/or usability testers involved. Such projects have included the production of technical documentation, replicating an authentic professional situation, which requires the interaction between subject-matter experts and linguists in a global context. The implementation of those projects poses several challenges related to organizational, linguistic, and cultural issues. Since 2013, TAPP collaborations have experimented with new pairings between scientific writing and scientific translation courses and between creative writing and literary translation courses. Another experiment has been conducted between a 1st-year undergraduate writing course (freshman English) and an introductory translation course. These new collaborations are in addition longer-running collaborations between students in technical writing, health writing, design writing, and humanities and social sciences writing working in CCVTs with students in various translation courses. New since 2013 is the pairing of classes in the US studying creative writing with literary translation classes in Portugal and Denmark. The workshop will demonstrate how to overcome the challenges of translating creative writing, with obvious but also subtle cultural roots in the source text, into a target language.


Second slot: translation-reviewing/editing collaborations

The second 90-minute session will focus on collaborative projects that begin with translators and then move on to reviewers/editors. Most often these projects have started with news articles, written in the translators’ native language. Translation students have translated them, typically into British English, then sent them to writing students in America for review and recommendations, along with editing for idiomatic American English. New since 2013 is an experiment in which students in an ESP course in journalism at Aristotle University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications, in Thessaloniki, Greece, partnered with students in an International Technical Writing course at the North Dakota State University (NDSU), USA.

A sample illustration of what’s new, to be incorporated in Session 2: Press-translation research has exploited linguistic/social, journalistic and ideological facets of message construction (Baker, 2006; Bielsa & Bassnett, 2009; van Leeuwen, 2011), which journalists-translators follow in order to produce a text that would show awareness of the text producer’s intentions. The journalist-translators’ decision as to what is to be included or left out of a text, in the limited space provided by newspapers, is highly dependent on background knowledge considerations, which reveal understanding of generic constraints, narrative priorities and language-specific preferences. This is what Munday (2008) calls “a dynamic shifting interaction between relevant elements of the linguistic toolkit and cultural analysis” (p. 190). These aspects of meaning expose the intention of the media to exert power and to construct identities. Translational norms and established institutional processes interact to adjust news stories to the taste of the public or maintain an indented power balance.  

However, this practice often produces awkward results, such as ambiguity, opacity, misunderstandings or misinformation (Valdeón, 2005). Such results could be minimized through international collaboration of students involved in ESP and translation studies, across countries and through learning-by doing projects. Session 2 will report on the new TAPP sub-project that involved the collaboration between students in Aristotle University’s ESP course in Journalism and NDSU’s International Technical Writing course. The Greek students selected and translated news stories from Greek into English, which were then reviewed and edited by their American partners in America with an American English audience in mind. Many questions were asked by both parties, until final consensus as to the final product was reached. Preliminary analysis of the findings revealed that three types of comments are found in the students’ correspondence: translation decisions affecting the English used (e.g., tense, nominalization, vocabulary and idiom), translation decisions affecting the journalistic style (e.g., accuracy, attribution, use of abbreviations) and translation decisions affecting cultural references in the source texts.  

Overall, the results suggest that international collaborative projects, such as the TAPP, provide an opportunity for students to improve their LSP skills in enhancing their language and trans-cultural awareness and also to produce real-life pieces of work that the professional community expects. Such findings align with the European language policy on the promotion and implementation of multilingualism and the successful employability of higher education graduates in an increasingly globalized world.

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