Florida International University

Department of Modern Languages










SPT-3800 is an introductory course in Spanish/English translation, covering a variety of registers: commercial, journalistic, legal, literary, medical, technical, etc. The course will cover the different aspects of translation as a profession, including the training needed, job opportunities and sources of work, standard business practices, free-lance versus staff employment, and other issues. It will also cover aspects of linguistics, vocabulary and terminology, translation theory, and the professional code of ethics. Extensive practice in translation will be provided in class and at home. This course meets on ________________________ at ________.


Goals: a) to familiarize students with translation and its uses in professional life; b) to prepare students for further courses in translation and interpretation, leading to an FIU Certificate in Translation and/or Interpretation Studies; c) to enhance student confidence in both languages through contextualized translation practice; d) to study and practice the basic techniques for obtaining a clear translation that is faithful to the original text and correctly expressed in the target language; e) to develop a high standard of professionalism through knowledge of the field, its business practices, social issues, and code of ethics. 


Requirements:   This course will have two non-cumulative exams whose content and format will be discussed in class. Class participation and homework will also be evaluated. Attendance is mandatory. Absences will severely affect your participation grade, as will tardiness. Be on time. If absent, it is the student’s responsibility to secure from a classmate a copy of the weekly homework, notes, and other materials distributed. In order to participate actively in class you must always do the translation homework assigned for each class. All homework translations should be word-processed and double-spaced. Never turn in a rough draft. A portfolio of all the texts translated for class, with an expandable glossary of problematic vocabulary, phrases, and expressions (whether specialized, idiomatic, or slang), with their translations, will be maintained by each student, periodically shared with the class, and turned in for a grade toward the end of the semester. Keep class notes on a separate notebook.


Final Grade will be calculated as follows:     

Participation & homework         10%

Portfolio                                             20%

Exam # 1                                          30%

Exam # 2                                          40%



Class Procedure:

1) Translation homework will be distributed for every class meeting. All students should do all assigned texts and observe the “Suggested Stages for Translations” outlined below.

2) Each day one person will make a model translation and bring photocopies for his/her classmates and instructor in order to facilitate its discussion and correction in class. All other students must also do the same translation at home so as to compare it with the model translation.

3) Each day we will discuss one or more model translations. We will also discuss an additional homework text for which no model translation has been assigned, thereby requiring the participation of all students. Occasionally, the instructor will bring fresh texts which students will translate as a team in class by working in small groups against the clock.

4) The instructor will announce, without notice, which homework translation texts are to be turned in for a grade on any particular day.

5) The instructor will return the marked translations on the following class meeting. The instructor will not “correct” the translations, but mark the perceived errors according to the “code” below.

6) The students will correct those translations and include a final, polished copy in their portfolio   that will be turned in and finally graded towards the end of the semester.


Suggested Stages for Translations:

1) Carefully reread the original fragment. What does it mean? What are the main ideas?

2) Analyze the style. Is it formal, colloquial, technical, etc.? Is the tone serious, ironic, humorous, etc.? What type of readership is it aimed at?

3) Identify lexical and syntactical problems: usage, metaphors, technical terms, false cognates, slang, grammatical structures without direct equivalent, etc.

4) Write a first draft of the translation. Are there still unresolved lexical problems?

5) Reread the draft while comparing it to the original. Has the meaning or “spirit” of the original been lost or distorted?  What can be done to correct this?

6) Proofread the revised draft for grammar and spelling. Correct any error.

7) Reread the corrected draft from the point of view of a reader who does not know the original text. Does it sound good or does it sound like a translation (awkward, not smooth or natural)? Make the necessary changes.

8) Read the translation once again, paying attention to the style. Will the translation produce a similar effect upon the reader as the original would have?


Code for Corrections:


G   =    Serious grammatical mistake

g   =    Grammatical mistake

o    =    spelling (ortografía)

v    =    Vocabulary 

s     =    Meaning has changed (significado)

a   =    Capitalize

A   =    Use lower case

~   =    Change the order

e    =    A problem of style (estilo). Awkward,

            lacks clarity, or does not sound good

T    =    Sounds like a translation

            Lexical or syntactic influence (Tl,Ts)

 /   =    Strike, eliminate

(  ) =    Unnecessary, could be eliminated



Textbooks and materials:


*Cuesta, Leonel de la. Lecciones preliminares de traductología.

*_____, ed. Antología bilingüe de la poesía hispánica.


*Photocopies of translation texts will be provided in class by the instructor. A fee may be assessed by the Department of Modern Languages for photocopies, if these become too numerous.


Suggested Reference Books:


1) A Spanish language grammar book.

2) An English language grammar book.

3) A good bilingual dictionary English-Spanish/Spanish-English

(Oxford, Larousse, Simon & Schuster, MacGraw Hill, Collins).

4) A dictionary of the English language.

5) A dictionary of the Spanish language.


Note: Small pocket dictionaries by themselves are inadequate for this class.










Introduction to the course.

The FIU Program in Translation and Interpretation.

The history of translation and current state of the profession.

Sources of work.      Drawing an entry / self-marketting plan.

[reading: Lecciones, pp. 9-11, 69-77. Time permitting, poems from

Antología bilingüe will be studied at the end of each class.]



Preliminary concepts. Types of translations. Modes of interpretation.

Introduction to commercial translation. Commercial terminology.

[reading: Lecciones, pp. 13-37]



Tools of the trade: reference books, computers, the internet.

Conventions and standard practices in Spanish/English translation.

Fundamentals of linguistics: the nature of language.

[reading: Lecciones, pp. 39-54, 89-92]



Steps and techniques in the translating process. Translator errors.

Translation in advertising.

[reading: Lecciones, pp. 55-68]




The professional code of ethics.

Brief history of the languages.

Introduction to legal translation. Legal terminology.

[reading: Lecciones, pp. 79-86, 93-100]



Language in the New World.    Civil and international law.

[reading: Lecciones, pp. 101-117]



Standard English and regional varieties of Spanish.

Translation practice in immigration law

[reading: Lecciones, pp. 119-125]



Exam # 1




False cognates.   Real estate and contracts.

[reading: handouts, typical for the rest of the semester]



Introduction to medical translation. Medical terminology.

Anglicisms and Hispanicisms.



Overlaps of the Legal, Medical, and Business Fields.

Insurance terms.     Technical translation.                  

English modal auxiliaries and syntactical Anglicisms.


22-27       SPRING BREAK




Translation and journalism.

Articles and prepositions.



Literary translations.

Free-lancing, continuing education, and career development.

Discussion of self-marketting plans.




Exam # 2  

Saturday 9:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.




¡Qué pasen un feliz verano!