The NDSU Department of English’s Trans-Atlantic Project gained wide visibility among translators in Europe this summer when Bruce Maylath, professor of English, joined colleagues from six other nations in presenting their work at a series of three conferences.
Launched 13 years ago, the Trans-Atlantic Project brings students and instructors in NDSU upper-level writing courses together with students and instructors abroad in collaborative projects. In its most common form, writing students at NDSU work with translation students in Europe in bilateral projects. The writing students draft a text in a genre common to their discipline or profession, then communicate with their translation partners to ensure that the text is rendered accurately in the target language, Maylath said.
In the fall of even-numbered years, NDSU’s International Technical Writing class takes on much more complex multilateral projects. In 2012, the class co-wrote instructions on engineering topics with a technical writing class of engineering students at Barcelona Tech in Spain. They then conducted usability tests in NDSU’s engineering labs as partners at Vaasa University in Finland simultaneously tested the same sets of instructions on subjects there. Guided by the test results, the students revised the texts, prepared them for translation and worked with translation classes in Belgium, France and Italy in rendering the instructions into Dutch, French and Italian.
In a simultaneous project operating in the opposite direction, the NDSU class worked with the same translation classes in France and Italy, plus another in Denmark. In this project, the translation students translated into English various news articles originally published in French, Italian or Danish, respectively, then worked with their NDSU partners in making sure that the texts were edited accurately for idiomatic American English.
The development of the Trans-Atlantic Project was highlighted this summer in a plenary panel presentation at the European Union-sponsored Optimale Symposium on Translator Training, held in Rennes, France in June; at the European Symposium for Language for Specific Purposes meeting in Vienna, Austria, in July; and at the Congress of the European Society for Translation Studies, which convened in Germersheim, Germany, in August and September.
Maylath was joined by colleagues at University College Ghent, Belgium; Aarhus University, Denmark; Vaasa University, Finland; the University of Paris—Denis Diderot, France; the University of Padua and the University of Trieste, Italy; and the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spain.
At the presentation in Vienna, the panelists included NDSU English doctoral students Tatjana Schell and Massimo Verzella. Both spoke of their experiences as members of the fall 2012 International Technical Writing class. They were able to travel to the symposium after spending part of their summer vacation with their families in their home countries. Schell is a citizen of both Germany and Russia; Verzella, of Italy.
As a result of the presentations, the Trans-Atlantic Project is adding translation partners this fall from the University of Mons in the French-speaking part of Belgium; the University of Lisbon and the University of Minho, both in Portugal; and Beijing Foreign Studies University in China. With the addition of China, project is expanding its name to the Trans-Atlantic and Pacific Project.
In 2014, project is expected to welcome new partners at Kenyatta University in Kenya and the Norwegian School of Economics in Norway, Maylath said.
NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.