The Linguist

The Linguist 55,1

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 19 of 35

20 The Linguist Vol/55 No/1 2016 AWARDS FOCUS Angeliki Petrits on the seemingly impossible task of setting up a European-wide network of excellence in MA Translation programmes The European Master's in Translation (EMT) is a network of 63 universities across Europe – 12 in the UK – sharing common benchmarks of excellence in translator training at Master's level. The need to set up the network arose at the time of the 2004 European Union (EU) enlargement, when ten new Member States, with nine new languages, joined. While many European countries, such as the UK, have a long tradition of translation training and, consequently, well-established programmes, others lacked such programmes or had begun to develop them only recently. In doing so, they sought assistance from the EU regarding various aspects of their programmes, including the curriculum (balance between theory and practice, use of tools, project management issues), assessment and teaching. The EU is a major employer of translators and an important player in the European translation market. It was therefore in its interest to follow closely the developments in translation training in Europe and to contribute to them, in order to make sure that there would be an adequate supply of highly qualified translators available to meet its requirements, and those of the wider translation market. What seemed, in 2005, to be a 'mission impossible' is, in 2015, a reality. So when education remains a national concern, how was it possible for an EU institution to bring together, around a common goal, universities from 28 countries with their different education systems, objectives and traditions? Inception It all started in 2005. I had just arrived back in Brussels from Budapest, where I had set up a translation field office and recruited the first Hungarian translators for the European Commission. In the midst of my euphoria at having reached conversational level Hungarian, I was appointed Coordinator of Relations with Universities for the Directorate- General for Translation (DGT). It was a newly created post. Until then, DGT didn't have relations with universities, at least not on an institutional level. I have an academic background in sociolinguistics, so liaising with universities was both easy and enjoyable. I had hardly had time to take my seat at my new desk when Juhani Lönnroth, then DGT Director-General, asked if I "could look into the possibility of setting up a European Master's in Translation?" Although I felt it to be a mission impossible, I answered, "Yes, of course! Would you have any specific guidelines?" He replied: "Organise a conference with universities in a year from now to see if there is interest. As for the rest, it is your project." I was flattered by the confidence and the freedom I was given, but the panic of impending failure hung over me. The first thing I did was to start looking for allies both in DGT and in universities. Some DGT translators with a background in academia had drafted a model curriculum for an MA in Translation. Although very basic, it was a thorough starting point, containing the main elements that are essential to train professional translators. I started a road trip across Europe, from Estonia to Spain and from the UK to Romania, where I presented the curriculum to universities and naively asked them if they were interested in implementing it. I thought that if several universities could agree to a common MA curriculum, the problem would almost be resolved. I was royally received. The newly established Routes into Languages programme invited me to join its working group on national networks for interpreting Mission impossible? I was flattered by the freedom I was given, but the panic of impending failure hung over me

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Linguist - The Linguist 55,1