Offered as FTRA 698/598 “Special Topics: EU Language Policy and Translation Policy” in 2022 and 2023

Département d'études françaises — Translation Studies sector

Academic Year 2021–22 | Winter (SGW MB 3.285 / remote online) | Tuesdays 5:45-8:15 p.m.


Please note: the course is designed to transfer easily to an online format in case we need to pivot to remote learning or alternate modes throughout the semester. The Zoom meeting links for classes and for office hours in online mode are provided in Moodle from the start.

Important reminder: it is strictly forbidden and against Concordia University's Code of Conduct to circulate the course content (Word, PDF, PowerPoint, evaluations, etc.) on websites that host or share teaching documents, university papers, etc.

Keep abreast of your university dates, deadlines, responsibilities and services:

Translation student associations:

  • Association étudiante des cycles supérieurs en traduction (AECST) / Graduate Students Association in Translation
  • Association étudiante du premier cycle en traduction (AECPT) / Undergraduate Students Association in Translation (USAT)

Specific course description and objectives

This “special topics” course presents a brief historical overview of the European Union, with emphasis on the basic principles of EU language policy and translation policy. It introduces the concepts that underpin the creation and development of the European Union and its role in the world today, including its relationship to Canada through the recent EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). We discuss the challenges of European multilingualism and its management through official language and translation policies implemented within the EU and its diverse institutions. Equal consideration is given to the role of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) and its support for minoritized languages and minority language translation. The complexities of a multilingual minority context are exemplified by the linguistic-translational situation of Romani peoples, who collectively comprise Europe's largest ethnic minority and reside within multiple nation-state borders, with literacy in different languages. We examine the various means by which translation is currently carried out in the EU context: by human and machine translation; with internal and external translation services managed by the Directorate-General for Translation (DGT) and the Translation Centre; the assessment of “competence” skill levels as guided by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR); and the European Master's in Translation (EMT), among others. Lastly, we look at the digital transformations occurring within the contemporary EU, and consider the e-democracy and artificial intelligence initiatives in terms of the conceptual frameworks by which the European Union was founded.

More specifically, in this course you will learn to:

  • Identify the main historical building blocks of the European Union;
  • Understand the general role of the European Union in the world today, and its specific relationship to Canada;
  • Identify the fundamental principles of plurilingual EU language policy and translation policy in historical context and in contemporary times;
  • Contextualize the creation and development of specific frameworks designed to measure diverse language and translation skills and knowledge in preparation for the EU translation market;
  • Identify the various ways European / EU organizations have integrated digital and translation policies and technologies in order to support goals of citizen access to information, equitable representation, and participatory democracy;
  • Investigate the specific ways in which the EU encourages social integration through minority language support and translation;
  • Identify the linguistic and cultural characteristics of the minoritized Romani context, contextualizing them historically;
  • Investigate, interpret, and understand translation practices in minority language-culture contexts;
  • Contextualize EU values, goals, and objectives within contemporary digital dynamics.

Readings: The textbook, The European Union - Politics and Policies, Seventh Edition, by Jonathan Olsen (Routledge 2021) is available for purchase through the university bookstore. Selected articles and chapters are posted and accessible through links in our class Moodle site from the outset of the course. You will find details in this syllabus and in the weekly sections of the site. Recommended readings and websites (indicated in the syllabus) can be used as further references and for the final research paper. I'll provide other links of interest for you in Moodle.

Class procedures

Preparation for the course is straightforward and similar for both on-site and online modalities.

Jean Monnet course note: As part of the EU's Jean Monnet Chair program, the course is officially offered in English.

Readings: For each class (onsite and online sessions), the expectation is that you will have read all the required readings listed for the week. The readings vary in scope and length, with some only a few pages (e.g., encyclopedia, report, or handbook entries, especially MIME Project), others the length of a book chapter (ranging from 20-30 pages), and some with extensive bibliographies provided by the authors. There are also many website URLs included for reference. Have a look at the content in advance, so that you can plan ahead for the amount of time you'll need during the week to read through the material. The readings and references may also be used for your final papers.

Pre-recorded segments: You will be notified when pre-recorded segments are posted in Moodle for you to listen to prior to online sessions. Note: The segments are applicable only for the sessions that are online, as the length of time for the online meeting will be shorter than for the onsite meeting.

Comments: Each week you are responsible for posting (at least 24 hours before class) one substantive, informed comment for discussion on any or all of the readings. There are many interesting angles from which to consider the reading content. Your comments will guide discussion during our class meetings.

News items: Along with your comments on the readings, please find an online news item (any length; text, audio, video) of interest and relevant to the class, and post the URL at the end of your weekly comment. The news item need not be associated with your comment.

Class discussions: The discussions, both onsite and online (not recorded), constitute an important space for articulating, clarifying, and critiquing ideas. This activity is also most helpful for working through the ideas you may want to use for your final research papers.

Grading criteria

Class comments, news items, and discussions (including pre-recorded segment listening) (50%)

  • Constitutes 50/100 points of final grade
  • Based on a total of 10 out of 13 weeks; each week worth 5 points
  • Breakdown of 5 points: 5=excellent; 4=very good; 3=good; 2=satisfactory; 1=unsatisfactory

Final research paper (50%)

  • Constitutes 50/100 points of final grade
  • Based on quality and respect of protocol (see below)
  • Breakdown of assessment categories:
    • "Excellent": originality; information highly relevant to the questions posed; highly critical and analytical; superior and judicious use of citations and supporting evidence [45-50 pts]
    • "Very Good/Good": clear argument and presentation; information relevant to the questions posed; good level of critical and analytical engagement with texts; very good use of citations and supporting evidence [30-44 pts]
    • "Satisfactory": evidence of argument and presentation; information not consistently relevant to the questions posed; critical analysis passable; citations included but not always reliable or compliant [20-29 pts]
    • "Unsatisfactory": incoherent argument / presentation; information illogical and/or irrelevant; little/no critical analysis; improper citing [0-19 pts]

Final grade calculation (100%)

  • Calculated on the basis of 100 points = 100%
  • Breakdown of grading categories:
    • A+ = 100-95 [4.3] // A = 94-90 [4.0]
    • A- = 89-85 [3.7] // B+ = 84-80 [3.3]
    • B = 79-75 [3.0] // B- = 74-70 [2.7]
    • C = 69-60 [2.0]

Protocol for final research papers

  • Mandatory! Please reserve a 10-15-minute one-on-one individual meeting with me to take place online by March 18 in order to discuss your final research paper topic and method before you begin writing.
  • Style guides to follow: For English papers: Chicago Manual of Style 17th edition; For French papers: TTR guidelines.
  • Papers should be a minimum of 15 pages in length, excluding bibliography.
  • Please use the standard default Calibri font set at 11. Use 1.5 spacing between lines. Include a cover page that states your name, student ID number, and title.
  • Papers may be submitted in English or in French. You do not have to translate any English or French quotes.
  • Critical tip! Good, clear, precise writing is a skill that is valued highly for professional work of all types in today's job market. Writing a paper requires adequate time for conceptualization and preparation. Think about the research topic you want to explore or the research question you want to address. It is helpful to map out in advance the points you wish to make. State at the outset how you will proceed and define important or necessary terms and concepts. Synthesize and reference others to support or critique your statements. Make sure you provide an adequate synthesis of your ideas and use precise vocabulary to explain your sequence of thoughts.
  • Take care to reference and cite properly. Any and all passages that are plagiarized will be reported to the Department Chair, and the paper will receive an automatic failure. There is no need to resort to plagiarism. Our objective is to enhance the analytical, critical and writing skills you will need for future professional or academic work, so that you will feel confident in your own work. That purpose is defeated if you simply copy-paste someone else's words. See me in advance if you need assistance or guidance.
  • Papers are graded according to quality of argument, clarity of expression, proper use of terminology and concepts, and adequate, acceptable citation.

Detailed course content


MID-TERM BREAK (Feb 28 - Mar 6)

With the support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union

The European Commission's support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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