‘Playing with(out) the dictionary: Using constrained literature in the development of transferable skills for translators.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This article argues that translation exercises involving formally constrained texts offer a fruitful way of releasing students’ creativity and facilitating a shift from source-language-based to target-language-based decision-making in their approach to the mediation of written texts. Given that form is the salient feature of these texts, students must privilege the reconstitution of formal constraint as the primary criterion of adequate translation. As a result, they cannot draw on the dictionary for solutions and must turn to other resources in their target language repertoire. The article begins with a review of literature on constraint and creativity, exploring their potential contribution to the development of translation competences in pedagogical settings that have traditionally favoured literal approaches to textual mediation. Drawing on the premise that translation and creative writing are two aspects of the same activity, a pedagogical proposal for the use of constrained translation tasks in translator training programmes is outlined next. Translation activities used as source material in a workshop-based module on the MA Translation Studies at the University of Portsmouth are used to illustrate the contribution of constrained translation tasks to develop students’ translation skills. Where appropriate, the discussion draws on student responses and explores the problems of teaching constrained translation in a multilingual classroom including students who work with non-alphabetic languages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-65
Number of pages28
JournalInterpreter and Translator Trainer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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