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28 November 2003

New B.A. Course: Translation Studies for Information Technologies

Course on offer for the first time —University of Heidelberg cooperates with the Mannheim University of Applied Sciences—A bridge between humanities and engineering

This term, the University of Heidelberg in collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences in Mannheim has embarked on a new B.A. course "Translation Studies for Information Technologies". This is a response to the increasing need for translators with a firm grounding in linguistics, translation studies, cultural studies and engineering. Today, translators working in the field of information technology are required to have not only outstanding qualifications in foreign languages but also a sound knowledge of computer science and engineering.

The first group of students are now well into the course, which is held in German and English. The innovative collaboration between the English Department of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting and the Mannheim University of Applied Sciences is the brainchild of Baden-Württemberg's Ministry of Higher Education and Research, supported in this by the findings and proposals of an evaluation committee. The cooperation agreement and the curriculum were elaborated jointly by the two institutions involved. The aim was to combine the relevant aspects of translation studies with those of engineering science.

The students spend two days each in Heidelberg and Mannheim. In Heidelberg they are given an introduction to the theories and methods of translation studies, with special emphasis on technical texts. They are also trained in the use of electronic translation tools and the translation of texts on European norms and legislation. This naturally includes an overview of the institutions of the EU.

The course takes six semesters in all. In the later stages, the students will be given a grounding in the translation of real-life technical texts (e.g. technical documentation). The curriculum is further geared to the acquisition of broadly based linguistic and cultural skills. In their later lives, the young translators will play a central role as intercultural linguistic mediators, so classes on the culture of the countries in question are obligatory. In Mannheim, teaching concentrates on the engineering side of things. At the University there, the students are acquainted with the essentials of digital data transmission and with applications in automatic manufacturing technology or digital systems.

Accordingly, the new B.A. degree represents a bridge between engineering studies at the University of Applied Sciences and the humanities-oriented part of the course in Heidelberg. As such, it requires a "dual" gift on the part of the students. Without the necessary talent both for technology and language, the highly demanding course would be impossible to master.

The small group of students already feel at home both in Mannheim and in Heidelberg. In these early stages, the amount of counselling and attention they receive is unusually high. Among the incentives that keep them going are the excellent career prospects awaiting them once they have gained access to highly qualified professions in the field of technical translation or technical documentation. In the years to come, the need for translators specialising in these areas will be greater than ever.

Heiko P. Wacker

Please address any inquiries to
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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