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Transferable skills from Translation

What sort of skills, other than the ability to give a workable English-language version of an Italian text, do you think you can develop in your Junior Sophister Translation Strategies class? We think you can do good work in at least the following areas:

  1. Time management
  2. Team work.
  3. Written communication
  4. Presentation skills
  5. Coping with multiple tasks

Click here for Oral Presentations skills.

For Time Management, see below, letter C

Why the particular skills listed above? How can you measure your progress in those areas, anyway?

We are gradually adding notes and ideas to this project page. Many language assignments invove combining skills number 1 and 5: "Time Management" & "coping with multiple tasks".


Take a look at the following student workshops. Where does it come from? Is it useful?

...and can you relate their advice to specific tasks involved in Sophister language courses? (Note any points worth bearing in mind.)


Generally speaking, which of the following would you rate as your biggest time management or multi-tasking problem in doing language assignments? Rate them 1 to 6.

  1. The rising level of difficulty of the texts you translate;
  2. The length of the texts;
  3. The vocabulary;
  4. Familiarizing yourself with the subject-matter of the texts;
  5. Clashes with other deadlines for academic assignments;
  6. Pressure from other work or social commitments.


Can you analyse your time use in doing a translation? As an example, take this assignment on Italo Svevo (literary translation), keep a time log (which you will be given) as you do the assignment, and then work out how much time you spent on:

  1. Reading the assignment text and instructions;
  2. Looking up words in paper and online dictionaries;
  3. Looking up other similar texts for guidance;
  4. Scratching your head;
  5. Typing a first draft;
  6. Revising and delivering your work.

How many words were in the original? In your version?

Name 3 things you learned from doing the translation, and 1 thing you learned from doing this time measurement exercise. For extra practice, you could do the same thing with an old assignment on the Book of Genesis...

D. For Trinity Term, Week 3: Translation into Italian:

(Keep the same time records as for Week 2, and answer the same questions)

Images blossomed in Séamus's mind, of his life and how it might have been lived, as a whole human being instead of a series of disjuncted fragments.

And this is how it feels, then, leaving the world unfinished.

Séamus the Baba was running on the beach at Rossnowlagh behind his big tall father, and smiling at red-haired Sarah Clancy from Hartley's Garage ten years later, the day he saw her in the bar of the Royal County Hotel before she ran away to England with P.J. Monaghan, the motor mechanic, married with two children. Would he see her again in Heaven? What had become of the Monaghan children?

He had never been worthy of life. How would Theresa fare?

He was in the orchard with Daniel. Daniel was holding him up to take a stripey apple. What age? He had never recalled this before now. He longed for Daniel and the strength of his arms.

And when Billy had said he'd seen the wind in the trees, he'd really seen the trees in the wind.

And is there a life after death?

E. For Trinity Term, Week 4:
Editing a Translation:

Read the text below, and the draft Italian translation. Edit it into a more acceptable version, and note some "machine errors" and some stylistic changes you have had to make, e-mailing your answers to

The accident and emergency consultant, a willowy fellow with pewter-grey hair, inclined his head like a praying mantis, scrutinised Billy's leg through his half-glasses and drawled: "Nothing to worry us here, I think. Nice and clean. Another inch and we'd have nicked an artery. Two inches, thigh-bone shattered. Six inches ... Mrs O'Rourke is a lucky lady. We'll have you out and about in a few days."

"Will I be able to play the harmonium, doc?"

For a moment he was puzzled. "Can't see why not," he allowed. "You'll need to take it easy for a week, though. There is some trauma and laceration."

"Because," Billy said, "I never could play it before."

The consultant snickered with good-natured amusement at this venerable witticism. "Mr O'Rourke, you are a card!"

Italian version produced with the aid of

Il consulente in materia di emergenza e di incidente, un collega willowy con capelli peltro-grigi, propensi la sua testa gradisce un mantis di preghiera, piedino del billy controllato attraverso i suoi metà-vetri e drawled: "niente preoccuparli qui, penso. Nizza e pulisce. Un altri pollice e noi avrebbero scalfito un'arteria. Due pollici, coscia-osso si frantumano. Sei pollici... La sig.ra O'Rourke è una signora fortunata. Li avremo fuori e circa in alcuni giorni."

"la I potrà giocare il harmonium, documento?"

Per un momento è stato imbarazzato. "non può vedere perchè non," ha conceduto. "dovrete prenderli facile per una settimana, comunque. Ci è un certi trauma e lacerazione."

"Poiché," il billy ha detto, "potrei non giocarlo mai prima."

Il consulente snickered con divertimento good-natured a questo witticism venerable. "il sig. O'Rourke, siete una scheda!"

- When you have done enough on this, try some more language revision exercises from GramEx on the CLCS network. Note down any points that you need to work on.

F. For Trinity Term, Week 5:
Drafting a Translation:

Read the text below, and make a draft Italian translation. Use Internet dictionaries and word searches. Note some grammatical and lexical difficulties involved in translating this text, e.g. choice of verb tenses, use of articles, vocabulary problems, and the strategies you have used to circumvent them in specific places in the text.

Fog shrouded the canyon, a box canyon above a California town called Pima. It rained. Not hard rain but steady and grey and dismal. Shaggy pines loomed through the mist like threats. Sycamores made white twisted gestures above the arroyo. Down the arroyo water poured, ugly, angry and deep. The road shouldered the arroyo. It was a bad road. The rains had chewed its edges. There were holes. Mud and rock half buried it in places. It was steep and winding and there were no guard rails.

He drove it with sweating hands. Why? His smile was sour. Why so careful? Wasn't death all he'd wanted for the past six weeks? His mouth tightened. That was finished. He'd made up his mind to live now. Hadn't he? Live and forget – at least until he could remember without pain. And that would happen someday. Sure it would. All the books said so. The sum of human wisdom. Meantime, he was working again.

And here was the bridge. It was wooden, maybe thirty feet in span, ten feet wide. Heavy beams, thick planks, big iron bolts. Simple and strong.The right kind of bridge for this place.
----------- FROM FADEOUT (1970), BY JOSEPH HANSEN (1923-2004)

- When you have done enough on this, try some more language revision exercises from GramEx on the CLCS network. Note down any grammar points that you need to work on.

G. For Trinity Term, Week 6:
Translating idiomatic English:

Read the text below, and make a fluent Italian translation.The object is to find Italian verbs that express what in English takes a verb+adverb or adjective+preposition form. Use Internet dictionaries and word searches. Try and READ THE FORUM DISCUSSIONS. Get used = abituarsi. Get around to it = riuscirci / farlo (?). Et cetera. This is one time when it's harder to be Italian than English-speaking! For TT Week 6 (May 2008), please email your text not to Cormac but to Elena Mullins:

I'd got used to taking a little walk after lunch. I tried to get around to it every day. So when I'd finished talking to Harry, I suggested going back on foot. He insisted on taking a taxi, so I decided to set out on my own. I'd forgotten to bring my umbrella, and of course the rain set in as I turned into Grafton Street. Worse, I ran into Mark.
"Patsy, me ould flower. What are you up to, sloping off at this hour of day?" Mark's familiar manner is off-putting, to say the least.
"Getting in a spot of exercise."
This attempt at a put-down failed dismally. "Go on! Exercise? Get away!"
"And what are you doing yourself?" I asked politely.
"Oh, clothes-shopping. Did you see my rig-out?"
He was got up in the most extraordinary suit, all mustard and black houndstooth. It looked as if he had run it up himself on a sewing-machine. "I'm off to the Clarence," he confided proudly. "Interview."
"What's the job?"
"Some Yankee start-up. Electronics. They're looking for a public relations man. If you want to get on, PR is where it's at these days. But you've got to be up to it. You've got to be on the ball. Otherwise they're on to you like a flash, and before you know it you're out on your ear."
Something about Mark suggested that he was on his ear already.

- When you have done enough on this, try some more language revision exercises from GramEx on the CLCS network. Note down any grammar points that you need to work on.

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