Archive of European Projects

Towards a European Framework of Reference for the Education and Training of Literary Translators
Start date: 01 Sep 2014, End date: 31 Aug 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"It is important for one to be able to read Pessoa without knowing Portuguese, Tsvetaeva without knowing Russian or Auden without knowing English, and still have the impression that one is hearing their voice, even if it is conveyed in the language with which one is most familiar." Jacques De Decker (In: Preface for the PETRA Recommendations) In multicultural and multilingual Europe, it is difficult to overestimate the importance of literary translation. Literary translation requires specific knowledge and skills: language proficiency, knowledge of the source and target culture, familiarity with the schools of thoughts in the source and target literature. They must also develop a specific literary language use and be able to handle different styles. These are but a few of the aspects of the (wide range of) knowledge and competencies expected of a good literary translator. Proper training programmes are therefore very important. PETRA-E aims to set up a European infrastructure for the education and training of literary translators. This project is the first step in that direction; developing a Framework for the education and training of literary translators. The project builds on several previous European and international initiatives. PETRA-E will follow the recommendations on the education of literary translators from the 2011 PETRA Congress: -Laying the foundation for a European infrastructure for the education and training of literary translators by further developing and disseminating a Framework of Reference for knowledge, skills and competencies in the area of literary translation. This is important for the recognition and validation of knowledge and skills acquired through the various formal and informal training programmes. - This requires implementation of another recommendation from the PETRA Congress: forums should be set up at a European level, since there is an urgent need for a debate on the recognition of skills, competencies and proficiency levels and for reaching consensus on the basis for a curriculum. The education and training of literary translators is necessarily a small-scale matter; the literary translation market is a small one, and the number of possible language combinations is large (cf Dutch-Irisch, Irish-Hungarian). It is a fragmented field of university and non-university education programmes (many of which are offered by translators’ organizations). The education and training of literary translators at university level is largely fragmented and invisible, since it forms part of various programmes for language studies. Although, in spite of all this, good results are being achieved, there is a lack of opportunities for cooperation, student and teacher exchange programmes, best practices and teaching methods. It is also not possible to move on to another type of education or to validate results achieved previously or elsewhere. Many opportunities for innovation, cooperation and cost savings therefore remain unused, while an increasing number of requirements is imposed on (the education and training of) translators. Because the translation market is under pressure, translators must work under ever-increasing time constraints, and are expected to possess professional skills when they enter the labour market. The market is also undergoing more rapid changes, and it is important that the educational field can quickly respond to changes in demand. Organization Because of the diversity of training programmes and the different views on them, a choice was made for a broadly based project group, bringing together different types of schools, stakeholders and disciplines. This also increases the level of support for and the dissemination of results. Development and dissemination go hand in hand in this project. In this context and due to the various views stated, target groups should already be involved at the instrument’s development stage so that it can meet their expectations. Apart from the project partners, we will also involve other institutions and translators in the development of the Framework during the meetings. Detailing a list of institutions, both academic and non-academic, also forms part of the project. This project is the first step on the path to a higher shared goal. Each activity constitutes a step towards a flexible, pan-European (or wider) network of formal and informal literary translation schools offering common Master’s degree programmes in specific subject areas, student and teacher exchanges, distance learning facilities and widely recognized qualifications and credits. Although the institutions and organizations involved may hold different views on and have a different understanding of (literary) translation, they may agree - at a basic level - on a Framework of Reference for literary translation, which will of course be receptive to different views on translation quality.
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