The Trans-Atlantic & Pacific Project
How can instructors of technical writing give their students experience in preparing texts for translation and localization and working with translators? Similarly, how can instructors of translation give their students experience at working with source texts and their authors, most of whom are subject matter experts but not experts in writing? The network of partners participating in the Trans-Atlantic & Pacific Project establishes links between students in different countries so that each learns from the other. In so doing, students become aware of the diversity of the world community in which their technical documents travel.
Launched in the 1999-2000 academic year by Bruce Maylath and Sonia Vandepitte, the Trans-Atlantic & Pacific Project (TAPP) has developed into a complex educational network of bilateral writing-translation projects, bilateral translation-editing projects (since 2001), and multilateral projects (since 2010). By 2014, the TAPP network had over time connected classes in writing, usability testing, and/or translation at three universities in the U.S., three in Italy, two each in Belgium and Portugal, and one each in Austria, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Kenya, Russia, and Spain, involving scores of instructors and thousands of students. TAPP’s main aim is to share insights into collaborative writing across borders and cultures, and, in the course of this work, to gain knowledge of others’ cultural bases.
Current Network of Participating Instructors and Institutions
Minnesota State University—Moorhead, USA
North Dakota State University, USA
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Barcelona Tech), Spain
Elisabet Arnó Macià
Usability Testing Faculty
North Dakota State University, USA
Vasa Universitet/Vaasan Yliopisto, Finland
Aarhus Universitet, Denmark
Beijing Foreign Studies University, China
Kenyatta University, Kenya
Universidade de Lisboa
Universidade do Minho
Fernando Ferreira Alves
Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy
Maria Teresa Musacchio
Università degli Studi del Salento, Italy
Università degli Studi di Trieste, Italy
Université de Mons, Belgium
Université Paris—Denis Diderot, France
Universiteit Gent, Belgium
Previously Participating Institutions
Tomsk Polytechnic University, Russia
University of Wisconsin—Stout, USA
The typical bi-lateral writing project involves a writing class in the U.S. and a translation class in Europe. A technical writing student composes instructions for a particular activity, does user testing, and answers translators’ questions. The translation student may test the instructions, be it only mentally, asks questions of the technical writing student and may localize, by exploring cultural differences and system differences between the two text audiences involved.
The typical bi-lateral editing project requires a European translation student to translate a published article and ask questions of her or his “native editor,” a role which, to date, is taken up by a U.S.-based writing student: the editor edits the translations for idiomatic American English and asks questions of the translator.
A multilateral project can be either 1) a writing-translation project that involves co-authoring in Spain and the U.S., user-testing in English in the U.S. and Finland, translation to Dutch (Belgium), French (France) and Italian (Italy), or 2) a translation-editing project with translation from Danish to English (Denmark), from Dutch to English (Belgium) or from Italian to English (Italy), all followed by editing for idiomatic American English in the U.S.
NDSU’s Department of English serves as the hub of the TAPP network, with Prof. Bruce Maylath serving as its international coordinator. As TAPP projects spread throughout the courses and sections in NDSU’s vertical writing program, students’ experiences in international collaborative projects are becoming a distinctive hallmark of the program.
By fall 2013, NDSU instructors teaching the following courses had used some form of TAPP’s international collaborative projects:
- ENGL-120 College Composition II
- ENGL-320 Business & Professional Writing
- ENGL-321 Writing in the Technical Professions
- ENGL-324 Writing in the Sciences
- ENGL-325 Writing in the Health Professions
- ENGL-326 Writing in the Design Professions
- ENGL-358 Writing in the Humanities & Soc. Sciences
- ENGL-455 International Technical Writing
- ENGL-467 English Studies Capstone Experience
Publications about the Trans-Atlantic & Pacific Project
(arranged in reverse chronological order)
Hammer, Steven, and Bruce Maylath. "Global Collaborations, Face-to-Face Conversation: Social Media in Trans-Atlantic Translation Projects." Emerging Pedagogies in the Networked Knowledge Society: Practices Integrating Social Media and Globalization. Ed. Marohang Limbu and Binod Gurung. Hershey, PA: IGI Global (in press).
Maylath, Bruce, Tym King, and Elisabet Arnó Macià. "Linking Engineering Students in Spain and Technical Writing Students in the US as Coauthors: The Challenge and Outcomes of Subject-Matter Experts and Language Specialists Collaborating Internationally." Connexions: International Professional Communication Journal 1.2 (2013): 150-185.
Maylath, Bruce, Sonia Vandepitte, Patricia Minacori, Suvi Isohella, Birthe Mousten, and John Humbley. "Managing Complexity: A Technical Communication/Translation Case Study in Multilateral International Collaboration." Technical Communication Quarterly 22 (2013): 67-84.
Mousten, Birthe, John Humbley, Bruce Maylath, Sonia Vandepitte. "Communicating Pragmatics about Content and Culture in Virtually Mediated Educational Environments." Computer-Mediated Communication across Cultures: International Interactions in Online Environments. Ed. Kirk St. Amant and Sigrid Kelsey. Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 2012. 312-327.
Mousten, Birthe, Bruce Maylath, Sonia Vandepitte, and John Humbley. "Learning Localization through Trans-Atlantic Collaboration: Bridging the Gap between Professions." IEEE-Transactions on Professional Communication 53 (2010): 401-411.
Mousten, Birthe, Bruce Maylath, and John Humbley. "Pragmatic Features in the Language of Cross-Cultural Virtual Teams: A Roundtable Discussion of Student-to-Student Discourse in International Collaborative Project." Reconceptualizing LSP. Online proceedings of the XVII European Language for Specific Purposes Symposium 2009. Ed. Carmen Heine and Jan Engberg. Århus, Denmark: 2010. Web.
Maylath, Bruce, Sonia Vandepitte, and Birthe Mousten. "Growing Grassroots Partnerships: Trans-Atlantic Collaboration between American Instructors and Students of Technical Writing and European Instructors and Students of Translation," Ch. 4 in Designing Globally Networked Learning Environments: Visionary Partnerships, Policies, and Pedagogies. Eds. Doreen Stärke-Meyerring and Melanie Wilson. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2008. 52-66.
Mousten, Birthe, Sonia Vandepitte, and Bruce Maylath. "Intercultural Collaboration in the Trans-Atlantic Project: Pedagogical Theories and Practices in Teaching Procedural Instructions across Cultural Contexts," Ch. 9 in Designing Globally Networked Learning Environments: Visionary Partnerships, Policies, and Pedagogies. Eds. Doreen Stärke-Meyerring and Melanie Wilson. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2008. 129-144.
Humbley, John, Bruce Maylath, Birthe Mousten, Sonia Vandepitte, and Lucy Veisblat "Learning Localization through Trans-Atlantic Collaboration." Proceedings of the IEEE International Professional Communication Conference, 10-13 July 2005, U of Limerick, Ireland. Ed. George F. Hayhoe. New York: IEEE, 2005. 578-595.