Span 412 Translation

Class Description: Spanish 412 is an introduction to the art of translation and interpretation (T/I) from Spanish to English. The primary focus of the course is translation. The course is divided into two parts: theory and practice. The theoretical part focuses on universal and language-specific problems in T/I: word order, cultural references, idioms, language varieties, etc. The practical part provides the student with situations in translation, including work in such fields as advertising, science/technology, literature and documents. Three class periods will be devoted to introducing the student to interpretation techniques.PREREQUISITE: SPAN 300 or equivalent.


  • Lunn, Patricia V., & Ernest J. Lunsford. En otras palabras. Perfeccionamiento del español por medio de la traducción. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2013.
  • Unabridged Spanish-English Dictionary (required for taking the exams); Collins and Oxford dictionaries are good choices
  • Access to a good English dictionary and a good Spanish dictionary


Participation 15%
Vocabulary lists and homework 10%
Long translation assignments 15%
Exam I 15%
Exam II  20%
Exam III  10%
Final Project  15%


EXTRA CREDIT: No extra credit will be given under any circumstances.


PARTICIPATION: In this class as in others, the student’s attendance and active engagement are required for success. Attendance is mandatory. You can miss twodays of class (one full week of class) for personal reasons without penalty. For each unexcused absence beyond those, your final grade will be reduced by 2% points.

If you miss a class, contact a classmate to obtain any missed information or assignments. You are responsible for work assigned on days you are absent.

Your participation grade is based not only on attending all classes, arriving on time, and being prepared for class. It also includes completing all homework assignments in their entirety—with the completed assignments displayed on your desk—so you’re prepared to talk about them during class discussion, being actively engaged in whole class discussions by asking questions, volunteering answers and comments, as well as being actively engaged in small group discussions. (Note: Completing assignments and not missing class but not speaking regularly in class is considered average = C.)


5 – Excellent

  • Comes to class prepared with materials, homework, and all assignments due on a given day.
  • Frequently volunteers often each day without being prompted, and offers to respond to almost all the instructor’s questions; actively participates in group activities.
  • Fully on-task during all activities; fully dedicated to completing assignments.



  • Comes to class prepared with materials, homework, and all assignments due on a given day.
  • Volunteers without being prompted often, though not necessarily each day, and offers to respond to many of the instructor’s questions; fully participates in group activities.
  • On-task during all activities; fully dedicated to completing assignment.



  • Usually comes to class prepared with materials, homework, and all assignments due on a given day. Sometimes assignments may be partially complete.
  • Does not tend to volunteer without being prompted, but does respond to instructor’s questions from time to time; moderate participation in pair and group activities.
  • Generally on-task during activities; at times student may be distracted and only partially address the assignment.



  • Arrives late to class
  • Not prepared with materials, homework, and the assignments due on a given day.
  • Does not respond to instructor’s questions; not engaged in pair/group activities.
  • May work on assignments for other classes, or is otherwise distracted with activities unrelated to the class (ie. cell phone use, computer use)


Academic Integrity: Penn State defines academic integrity as the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. All students should act with personal integrity, respect other students’ dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts (Faculty Senate Policy 49-20).

Dishonesty of any kind will not be tolerated in this course. Dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, or tampering with the academic work of other students. Students who are found to be dishonest will receive academic sanctions and will be reported to the University’s Judicial Affairs office for possible further disciplinary sanction. Questions about academic integrity can be referred to Ashley Tarbet at 865-1070 or

University Policy on Disabilities: The Pennsylvania State University encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities and is committed to the policy that all people shall have equal access to programs, facilities, and admissions without regard to personal characteristics not related to ability, performance, or qualifications as determined by University policy or by state or federal authorities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation in this course of have questions about physical access, please tell the instructor as soon as possible so that these needs may be met in a timely fashion. Questions about disability access can be referred to Bill Welsh or 863-1807.



The Final Project (see syllabus for due date) is a translation from Spanish into English of a document of your choice which must be approved by the instructor. It should be a text a) that has not been previously translated, b) from an edited source (not a blog), c) intended for native speakers of Spanish and d) written originally in Spanish. Do not translate a text that was originally written in English and then translated to Spanish, i.e., pamphlets/articles published by US organizations, magazines, news agencies, etc.

Literary translation is acceptable so long as it is of a work that has not previously been translated into English. Do a search of four Big Ten Libraries. Find the university using the Database search on Lias. Once you access the library, type in the name of the literary text in Spanish. That will bring up copies of the text as well as translations. In addition to Penn State’s library, check the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Michigan.


  1. Project Topic (See syllabus for due date) This is an assignment worth 10 points.

Please include the following when you hand in your project topic:

  1. a) a short, well-written explanation of why you chose the text.
  2. b) a copy of the text to be translated with its source and date of publication. It will not be returned to you, so keep a copy for yourself. If using an on-line source, the font size must be at least 11-12 pt. If the text is taken from a book, the size of the print must be reasonable.
  3. c) an approximate word count of the Spanish text. It should be about 660 words


Be certain to read your topic well before final selection because topics may not be changed unless the professor finds them inappropriate. Hard copies are more reliably edited than online materials. Choose cautiously


  1. The Final Translation will include the following:


1) The grading rubric sheet you will find in ANGEL


2) Introduction: You can reuse the paragraph from the project topic assignment, editing or changing it as needed. Describe your overall approach to translating your specific text in terms of a) subject matter, b) type of publication, c) probable audience, d) style, e) register, etc.


3) Translation: The English translation itself, which should be a minimum of 600 words and a maximum of 650 words double spaced


4) Word count of the final translation


5) Conclusion: A minimum of 250 words, which describes the issues you found as you translated your text. Discuss specific spots where you had difficulties, why they were problematic and why you chose the solution you did. These may be problems with word order, translation of pronouns/se, lexical choices, handling of cultural references, etc. This may be an informal commentary written in the first person about problems you encountered. You may use a bulleted list to show problems and their resolutions.


  1. Word count of summary


  1. Bibliography: Includes the text you translated, any texts you used as references, the dictionaries you used, and the technical or native speaker consultants you may have contacted in the process. (You do not need to use strict bibliographical rules to list your resources. For books and articles, for example, list the title, author, publisher (if a book), and date of publication. If you used Wikipedia, list the title of the entry, and include the web address. If you used some other on-line resource, list the title or heading on the site, author if applicable, and then include the web address.)
  2. The name and signature of a native speaker of English (the target language)who has read your translation and who has found it well-written and understandable.

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