Course Title: Discourse Studies for Translators

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term2 2010

Course Code: LANG5395

Course Title: Discourse Studies for Translators

School: 365T Global Studies, Soc Sci & Plng

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6067 - Advanced Diploma of Translating and Interpreting

Course Contact : Miranda Lai

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 99253523

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

 Mr Liam McCaul

Nominal Hours: 80

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites

Course Description

This course aims to provide students with the skills and knowledge to perform textual analysis and to extend and consolidate their practical written skills and comprehension of written texts.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

VBN931 Discourse Studies for Translators

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module you will be expected to be able to demonstrate proficiency in handling a number of aspects of textual analysis deriving from discourse analysis and textlinguistics frameworks relevant to the translation process, and to be able to use such frameworks to “justify” your translation/transfer decisions as a professional translator. You will be able to:

  • Use textual and contextual/extratextual factors to identify types of written professional discourses. 
  • Assess the significance of these factors in the translation/transfer process. 
  • Identify types of cohesion and cohesive devices, and assess their role in enabling you as a translator to comprehend the nature of professional texts and types of meaning.
  • Use cohesion as a tool to “chunk “meaning in a text, and make appropriate translation decisions into the other language, focusing in particular on “transpositions” necessary to achieve a natural effect in the target language. 
  • Look at the levels at which meaning is created in language: the word, the phrase, the clause, the sentence, the paragraph etc, to identify at what level “chunking” is possible. 
  • Identify types of logical connections in texts: coordination and subordination as the two basic universal structures in language.
  • Paraphrase in context words, phrases etc, as a way to test comprehension of real or intended meaning, which is the brief of the professional translator to handle effectively. 
  • Identify technical vocabulary, unfamiliar collocations, register and idioms and develope appropriate strategies for dealing with them in the translation process.
  • Translate short texts in any language direction and use the frameworks discussed in class to provide a rationale for translation decisions and issues or difficulties encountered during the translation process.

Details of Learning Activities

In classroom situations, you will be involved in intensive hands-on practice with a variety of professional texts to develop practical strategies and skills to enable you to effectively comprehend and translate such texts, using discourse analysis and textlinguistics principles acceptable to the profession internationally. You will also learn to use these frameworks to “justify’ your translation decisions in any language direction.
You will engage in the following learning activities:

  • Identifying textual, contextual and extra-textual aspects and assessing their role in comprehending and translating texts.
  • Paraphrasing words, phrases, sentences etc in context, as a way to test comprehension and to develop appropriate strategies for translating texts, particularly transpositions necessary to achieve a natural target text.
  • Comprehending the content and real or intended meaning of texts, and making decisions about how to achieve appropriate equivalence into the target language.
  • Recognising technical vocabulary, a variety of registers, collocations and idioms and developing strategies for dealing with them effectively in the translation process. 
  • Identifying cohesive devices, their types and functions and using them as a basis for working out types of “chunking” that will facilitate the translation process, ie aim for accurate and natural target language translations. 
  • Undertaking translation of short texts and developing the ability to meaningfully talk about the translation process you have engaged in using the principles and the language of discourse analysis and textlinguistics as is expected of professional translators internationally.

You will also need to devote 2 hours per week of your own time on assignments / tasks allocated by your teacher and bring them back to class for discussion and feedback.

Teaching Schedule

week NoLesson 1 (Mon Class)Lesson 2 (Thurs Class)
Week 1Course introductionCoordination/subordination within sentences
Week 2Cohesion ( Halliday and Hassan)Cohesion (cont’d). “The rise of the wrinklies” (The Age)
Week 3Cohesion (class exercise)Discourse texture (Hatim and Mason)
Week 4Discourse texture (cont’d)“A language is a window…” (The Age)
Week 5Discourse texture (conclusion)“Families worth the work” (The Australian”)
Week 6Context of situation (Halliday and Hassan)Context of situation (cont’d)
Week 7Types of meaning (sheet) “Food mile fallacy” (Cosmos) /The nature of meaning
Week 8“Food Mile Fallacy” (cont’d) LO 1
 Semester BreakSemester Break
Week 9LO 1 review The dynamics of translation (Newmark)/class exercise
Week 10“No penalty for socceroos” (The Australian); co-text, context, lexical cohesion“No penalty (cont’d)
Week 11“Health privacy” (Medicare pamphlet) total environment of text“Health privacy” (cont’d)
Week 12“Madness helps” (The Age); coherence“Madness helps” (cont’d)
Week 13“What can schools do?” (The Australian) coherence/cohesion“What can schools do?” (cont’d)
Week 14“Expect the unexpected” (Cosmos) text, context, cohesion and intertextuality, & the translation process“Expect the unexpected” (cont’d)
Week 15ReviewReview
Week 16Class work on LO 2Class work on LO2

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

Reader  -  LANG5395 Discourse Studies for Translators


Halliday M.A.K & Hasan R, Cohesion in English, Longman, 1994

Halliday M.A.K & Hasan R, Language, context and text: Aspects of language in a socio-semiotic perspective, Deakin University, 1993

Hatim B & Mason I, Discourse and the Translator, Longman, 1992

Larson M, Meaning –Based Translation, A Guide to Cross-Language Equivalence, 2nd ed, University Press of America, 1998

Newmark P, A Textbook of Translation, Prentice Hall1988

Other Resources

Overview of Assessment

Two Learning Outcome tasks.

Assessment Tasks

Learning Outcome 1 (50%, conducted in week 8 or otherwise advised by teacher)

  • Textual Analysis of an English language text, involving exercises relating to aspects of cohesion, “chunking” and other textual and contextual factors.
    You will be required to discuss the role of these devices in comprehending and translating the text.


Learning Outcome 2 (50%, conducted in week 16 or otherwise advised by teacher)

  • A short translation (into either language direction) of a written text and an accompanying “rationale”, based on the discourse analysis principles covered in class, to “justify” your translation decisions.
  • You will be expected to focus on ‘transpositions’, ie cohesion, lexical, grammatical , syntactical etc changes you have chosen to use during the translation process to achieve appropriate equivalence.


Assessment Matrix

Other Information


What do I do if I need help in this course?
You are advised to contact your teacher as soon as any difficulties arise. The Program Coordinator is available for academic advice and support. Once the issue has been identified, the Program Coordinator in consultation with your teacher and yourself, will put in place an individual study plan. This might include supplementary assessment, consultation during the conduct of assessment or granting an extension. Where these measures are inadequate, the Program Manager may refer you to University student support services such as student counselling or the Learning Skills Unit.

How can I have my relevant previous study or work/life experience assessed as a way of gaining credit in this course?
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) means recognition of competencies currently held, regardless of how, when or where the learning occurred. This includes any combination of formal or informal training and education, work experience or general life experience.
For RPL to be granted, the applicant must provide evidence that he/she:
• has attained the competencies described in the modules that are being claimed
• possesses current competency in the modules that are being claimed, including underpinning skills and knowledge
• has applied the relevant modules in a context that is applicable to this qualification.
Contact the Program Coordinator for further advice about applying for RPL and suitable evidence requirements.

What are my responsibilities in undertaking this course?
All students are expected to attend classes regularly and complete all set learning and assessment tasks. You are encouraged to seek support in relation to any difficulties you may have at the program level via the Program Manager. Students are expected to act as professionals in the learning environment, a critical capability expected of graduates in their employment.

Special Consideration
You may apply for Special Consideration by using the RMIT Application Form for Special Consideration, which is available from RMIT website. The application, with relevant documentation, must be lodged with the Student Hub prior to or within 48 hours of the commencement of the assessment task in question. Applications for special consideration are considered by the expert panel convened by the Academic Registrar (or nominee).

You are reminded that cheating, whether by fabrication, falsification of data, or plagiarism, is an offence subject to University disciplinary procedures. Plagiarism in oral, written or visual presentations is the presentation of the work, idea, or creation of another person, without appropriate referencing as though it is one’s own. Plagiarism is not acceptable. The use of another person’s work or ideas must be acknowledged. Failure to do so may result in charges of academic misconduct, which carry a range of penalties including cancellation of results and exclusion from your course.
You are responsible for ensuring that your work is kept in a secure place. It is also a disciplinary offence for you to allow your work to be plagiarised by another student. You should be aware of all rights and responsibilities regarding the use of copyright material.


How can I let my teacher know about my experience of this course?
You may discuss this with your teacher at a mutually convenient time. The School distributes confidential course assessment forms at the end of each semester for students to complete. These are analysed and action is taken to remedy defects in teaching or course administration as required. The College also conducts student experience and satisfaction surveys during semester.

Course Overview: Access Course Overview