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Translation Strategies

Transferable skills: Oral presentatation

As an example of oral presentation, we will be looking over Chapter 8 from pages 85-93 of Thinking Italian Translation, which asks you to reflect on different levels of semantic equivalence in translation: perfect synonymy where concepts match exactly and completely; hyperonymy where you have to move up to a more general category in the target language; and hyponomy, where you have to choose a word that renders part but not all of the original concept. Ideally, languages ought to have lots of synomyms, but in real life, one is constantly forced to move up and down the scale, as "languages differ from each other in what they must convey" (Roman Jakobson).

A mark will be given in the usual way for assignments handed up. But we're also going to enhance the "transferable skill" of talking to a group to explain the principles you have used in approaching the task of analysing the use of particularizing, generalizing, and partially overlapping translations in Archibald Colquhoun's translation from Il Gattopardo (pp. 91-93), and the decisions you have come to.

We need some "spontaneous" groups of between 2 and 6 people to speak to the class in the next Translation Strategies hour and do the following:

  • explain concepts like synonymy, hyperonymy and hyponomy. Is there any connection between decisions on levels of translation and the notions of "balanced" translation, "free" translation, "literal" translation that we came across in Chapter 4?
  • explain a couple of points that you included in your analysis of the Colquhoun translation.

Don't tell anyone, but there's a web site in Cambridge, The Translation Emergency Tool Kit by Louise M. Haywood (very clearly designed by Gavin Burnage), that explains some of these concepts in a handy form: click on <>.

Each speaker should choose just one or two concepts to explain, and one or two points from the translation critique. You should speak for just a few minutes.


  • A good way to explain a concept is to define it, give a simple example of how it works, and repeat your definition in almost the same words. That allows your listener to get a grip on the concept in abstract and practical ways. We need both for understanding and memory.
  • Give your listener enough time to assimilate what you're saying, by leaving pauses between bits.
  • Use eye contact to make sure that people are following. If you lose them, reword what you're saying in simpler language, or repeat your main point very slowly.

Helps & References:

  • It can be a good idea to hold a rehearsal – agree it among yourselves.
  • Some interesting websites are listed below (adapted from materials supplied by the Transferable Skills Project).
  1. University of Birminham - tips for effective presentations
  2. University of Plymouth - learning development and making presentations

How to assess what you have learned:

The ideas below are adapted from a checklist prepared by Catherine Lowry-O'Neill of Waterford Institute of Technology, a partner institution in this Transferable Skills project.

After giving your first presentation, see if you can answer the following questions:
  • What were your main aims when preparing your presentation and to what extent do you feel you achieved these?
  • What aspects of the feedback from peers and from the lecturer did you find most helpful?
  • How do you plan to enhance the positive and resolve the negative aspects of the way in which you give a presentation? (consolidate, extend, change, enhance, remove)

After giving another presentation in the future,and received some feedback from other students and the lecturer, your should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What changes had you hoped to make in this presentation in comparison with your previous presentation?
  • To what extent do you feel you were successful in improving your performance?
  • What have you learned about yourself which will be useful to you for future presentations?
  • Do you feel that reflecting on your learning has been useful?   If so, in what way?
  • Do you feel that carrying out this exercise has changed your approach to your learning?   If so, in what way?

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