Intercultural Communication Training for Translators

"A translator's profession can never only entail rendering meaning from one language to another but always involves translating from one culture to another" (

“A translator’s profession can never only entail rendering meaning from one language to another but always involves translating from one culture to another” (

The ever-more globalised world of today requires a new type of translator. Text genre, audience, style and register all maintain their relevance. In an interconnected world the necessity to understand complex cultural contexts and to adapt messages to heterogeneous and hybrid audiences is becoming crucially important. Translators, more than simple interlinguistic negotiators, are increasingly becoming intercultural negotiators working on porous cultural boundaries and across power hierarchies. Training in Intercultural Communication thus becomes paramount in the training of high quality translators and yet the intercultural training and assessment that takes place on academic or professional programmes remains limited or undefined.

Acknowledging this need, in recent years there has been a push to modernise the skill set with which translators emerge from training and to put them in a position to function more appropriately and innovatively in the workplace. Important academic figures such as Michael Byram, formerly an advisor to the Council of Europe on language and intercultural issues, has long been an advocate of the necessity of developing intercultural as well as linguistic skills for translators. The International Permanent Conference of University Institutes of Translators and Interpreters (CIUTI) has also promoted the idea of integrating intercultural as well as linguistic and technical skills. The creation of the European Masters in Translation (EMT) which highlights the importance of intercultural communication training has furthered this agenda, too.

Besides these top level initiatives, there have also emerged grass-roots ones such as Promoting Intercultural Communication in Translators (PICT), an EU sponsored project which developed a curriculum framework, training and assessment materials for intercultural communication for academic translation programmes. The project, bringing together seven partner universities from across Europe, spent two years developing a large array of versatile pedagogical materials which can be accessed here.

The research and policy agenda in this area is currently being taken forward by new initiatives such as a special issue of the journal The Interpreter and Translator Trainer focusing on “Training and Assessing Translators’ Intercultural Competence.” We are currently inviting contributions to this special issue. Articles addressing one of the several themes of this special issue are invited. For more information please see the call for papers available here.

Improving the intercultural communication of future generations of translators is becoming a recognized priority for academic and professional training institutions around the world. Share your experience and views of it via the above call for papers.

Author Daniel Tomozeiu, Kaisa Koskinen and Adele D'Arcangelo

Daniel Tomozeiu is Lecturer in Intercultural Communication at the University of Westminster. Kaisa Koskinen is Professor of Translation Studies at the University of Eastern Finland. Adele D'Arcangelo is Lecturer in Interpretation and Translation at the University of Bologna. Intercultural communication training for translators is an exciting and growing research area. The three authors worked together on the EU sponsored Promoting Intercultural Competence in Translators project.

More posts by Daniel Tomozeiu, Kaisa Koskinen and Adele D'Arcangelo
  • Paul Desailly

    As often occurs when the learned state a case the final sentence of the first paragraph is crucial i m o:

    “the intercultural training and assessment that takes place on academic or professional programmes remains limited or undefined.”

    For the sheer number of cultures involved and the multitudes affected an expedient solution evades the greatest minds – until our era. In fact, at present, the difficulties and dimensions of the cultural jigsaw expand exponentially with increases in the world population, as communities fragment and as new cultures emerge on line and elsewhere.

    “If one studies 50 languages one may yet travel through a country and not know the language.” Sir Abdul Baha, K.B.E.. (Knighted by the British in 1920 for fighting famine in Palestine in WW1.)

    Consider the globality and justness of the principle of a universal auxiliary language. Whatever it might be, once selected by means of an increasingly feasible planetary plebiscite or chosen by means of an empowered Commission or UN body, cultural differences will exist only as blessings and bounties vis-a-vis unity in diversity.

    And, should that democratic process vote for English won’t I be a lucky devil, so to speak.

  • Paul Desailly

    FOR THE RECORD IN THE ETHER professor Ingrid it might be fairer (certainly more accurate or at least – timely) to record the date on which posts actually appear in front of the readers rather than the date on which they are composed. Given some examples of lengthy lags consider perhaps recording both dates. Several posts of mine have had a time lag approaching one week which is quite a hindrance re communication and consultation for readers of blogs and other platforms where I’ve recommended the scholarship vis-a-vis Language on the Move

    • Thanks, Paul, for your suggestion! You make a valid point but we are limited by the technical constraints of the software we use (which only allows the submission time stamp) and people power constraints of running Language on the Move as a volunteer service. Despite these limitations, we appreciate it very much that you – and every other contributor – take the time to comment and engage!

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