Guidelines for Honours translation projects

A translation project can be undertaken as an alternative to the conventional Honours Thesis in certain cases with the approval of the Honours coordinator in the relevant language discipline.

The project consists of a translation of approximately 9,000-10,000 words, with a critical introduction or research commentary of 6,000-8,000 words. In the case of poetry translations, the text may be considerably shorter, in which case the commentary should be expanded.

The project may consist of a series of set texts from a particular genre (e.g., scientific, medical, legal, technical, governmental, journalistic), or students may choose to focus on literary and/or cultural translation, selecting one main text (previously untranslated), in consultation with the supervisor. Students will be expected to translate into their A language.

The critical introduction should include translation issues and theoretical approaches. It will reflect a critical engagement with the discourse and/or discipline of the original text, as well as an understanding of issues involved in the translation process and an awareness of relevant theoretical frameworks. The research commentary will include a literature review and a description of the methodology employed in the project. It will also include:

  1.  A critical preamble that should discuss questions such as why the text was selected; why a translation of this text seems apposite; how this text relates to texts available/not available in the market place; how you approached the translation and why; what difficulties were encountered in the translation process.
  2. A discussion of the application of aspects of translation theory to the text chosen for translation.
  3. Thorough critical annotations to the translation appropriate to the chosen text and the translation approach adopted.

The research commentary may also include a comparative approach to the structure and functioning of texts in different languages-cultures; any other discussion involving theoretical or methodological questions approved by the supervisor. The critical annotations will focus on relevant translation strategies and the linguistic choices involved in the translation.

Students are encouraged to keep a regular ‘diary’ detailing the issues they encounter throughout the translation project in order to assist with the writing of the critical introduction.

Translation projects are normally assessed according to the following criteria:

  1. Research Component 60% (critical introduction, theoretical framework, critical annotations)
  2. Translation 40% (fidelity, fluency, accuracy, appropriate style, awareness of cultural issues)