Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Translation and Linguistics
Academic Year
Semester 1
Normally a 2:2 degree in French, German and/or Spanish
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 5 x 2 Hour Seminars
Tutorial 5 x 1 Hour Tutorials


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 5,000 word project  100%
Supplementary Assessment Project to be resubmitted if failed  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Display a clear understanding of how sociolinguistics can help to resolve specific translation problems
2. Demonstrate that they have acquired advanced skills as critics of particular translation choices, analysed from a linguistically-informed perspective
3. Demonstrate that they have acquired a sophisticated analytical skill in understanding the cultural and semantic problems inherent in translation
4. Use secondary literature critically
5. Express themselves clearly, coherently and in a logical fashion, both orally and in writing
6. Demonstrate that they have a solid foundation for further postgraduate research in related areas

Brief description

Translation as an activity and as a mental process obviously raises linguistic questions going far beyond the struggle to find legitimate equivalents in the target language of words and idioms in the source. These include questions of contrastive linguistics; the semantics of how different languages handle the same concepts; the possibility that some ideas are in fact present in one language and absent from another; and the way in which regional and social dialectology allow us to identify which varieties are being used and their communicative meaning in the source text.


4 lectures:

History of translation from Classical times onwards
A short introduction to linguistic theory: Saussurean Structuralism and Sapir / Whorf
Contrastive linguistics: how does this underlie and inform translation?
Sociolinguistic variation: regional and social dialectology

1 seminar:
How to translate regional and social variation

In addition students will attend five tutorials with the staff who will be supervising their essays / projects (e.g. a student who decides to write a project on how contrastive linguistics helps in translating German modal particles will get five sessions with a lecturer in German, whereas a student who writes about the difficulties of translating the dialogue in Tom Sawyer into Spanish will get five sessions which may be shared between Dr Davies as the expert in sociolinguistics and a colleague in Spanish – this will depend on the topic).


This module forms part of the MA in Translation. It is intended to complement the other modules and to offer students the chance to address sociolinguistic questions raised by the activity of translation, e.g. elements of the history of translation, aspects of contrastive linguistics, sociolinguistic variation and socio-cultural norms.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number n/a
Communication Participating in workshops and seminars and writing of project will require student to express their ideas clearly, cogently and coherently.
Improving own Learning and Performance Independent preparation for project and seminars/workshops, independent research for project and seminars/workshops.
Information Technology Students will be required to access bibliographical information and to submit word processed projects. They will also be expected to use web resources for research, and to use translation software and electronic resources such as corpora and online dictionaries
Personal Development and Career planning Students will be expected to show an ability to manage their own time effectively and to engage in independent lines of research in preparing their projects.
Problem solving Selection of reading material, answering questions posed by written assessment, seminar work
Research skills Researching for project and for seminars and workshops
Subject Specific Skills Depending on topic chosen for project students will acquire knowledge of a selection of dictionaries and will learn to evaluate them critically. This is an important professional but also subject-specific skill.
Team work This will apply in the seminars and workshops.


This module is at CQFW Level 7