Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module MELA46715: Introduction to Linguistics for Translation

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures

MELA46715: Introduction to Linguistics for Translation

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.
Tied to MA in Translation Studies


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To lay the foundations necessary for the practice and study of translation by introducing students to the core areas of linguistics inherent to (a) translation practice, and (b) translation theory. To give a grounding in the major principles of the relevant areas of linguistics, and the metalanguage necessary to access this conceptual world, while bridging the gap between these concepts and principles and students’ working languages.


  • Introduction: what is language?; key Saussurean concepts; core areas of linguistics; grammar, competence and performance; formalism and structuralism; linguistic vs non-linguistic information; language – translation issues and ‘turns’
  • Linguistic structures below the word level (morpho-phonemics)
  • Linguistic structures above the word level (information structure; syntax)
  • Linguistic features of words (semantics)
  • Beyond the word: grammar and translation
  • Beyond the sentence: context, register
  • Text structure • Beyond the utterance: pragmatics
  • Psycho- and sociolinguistic aspects of translation
  • Language representation: transliteration, transcription, speech, sign

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of this module will have gained:
  • knowledge of the core areas of linguistics;
  • knowledge of the major principles and relevant concepts of core areas of linguistics;
  • a clear understanding of the different levels of equivalence and how these relate to core areas of linguistic competence;
  • knowledge of how these concepts fit into various translation-theoretic frameworks;
  • the conceptual ability and metalanguage to discuss linguistic equivalence and apply to their own translation practice;
  • knowledge of the relationship between core, formal linguistics and its interfaces with extra-linguistic areas relevant to translation;
  • an exposure to aspects of the linguistic structures of their working languages and a point of comparison with languages of other pathways in the MA Translation Studies.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students will be able to:
  • better understand and engage with theories of translation;
  • use conceptual language of linguistic equivalence;
  • apply their knowledge of linguistic principles and concepts to their own translation practice;
  • analyse linguistic structures that are broadly relevant for their translation practice.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students will have gained or improved:
  • the ability to analyse linguistic structures not previously encountered, as well as more familiar structures • the ability to develop a logical argument
  • the ability to critically engage with the literature
  • the ability to use new conceptual terminology
  • the ability to transcribe, transliterate and gloss language data in an appropriately scholarly manner
  • the ability to use and develop a bibliography
  • the ability to take notes

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module is taught through introductory lectures and seminars. The lectures centre around the levels of linguistic equivalence through introducing and discussing key concepts and principles of the core areas of linguistics. The seminars consolidate these concepts through analytical practice, using actual language and translation data, as appropriate. The mode of teaching is interactive, with lectures involving discussion of key concepts and facilitation of students relating these concepts to their existing knowledge, and seminars involving analytical work in small groups followed by class discussion, and – where practical – student presentations.
  • The module is assessed by both take-home essay and written exam. The essay will allow students to demonstrate knowledge gained on this module and their ability to contextualise it within a theoretical framework and apply it to relevant linguistic structures of their working language(s). The written exam will allow students to demonstrate their ability to analyse linguistic structures through application of principles and concepts learned through this module.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 9 Weekly 1 hour 9
Seminars 9 Weekly 1 hour 9
Student Preparation and Reading Time 132
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Essay 2000-words 100% Yes
Component: Written Examination Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Examination 1-hour 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Seminar presentations, as well as small-group and whole-class discussions, that require prior preparation in the form of independent reading and / or collection of relevant linguistic data, and on-going tutor feedback; A formative, take-home linguistic analysis exercise.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University