XENX1004 Translation as cultural mediation: culture-specific items (2 cr)

Study level:
Other studies
Grading scale:
Pass - fail
Responsible organisation:
Centre for Multilingual Academic Communication
Curriculum periods:
2020-2021, 2021-2022, 2022-2023, 2023-2024


The course gives an introduction to translation as a linguistic and cultural act by combining theory and practice. The main focus is on culture-specific items—words or phrases that are difficult to translate because they refer to something specific in a culture. Through an assortment of illustrative examples from various authentic texts, we discuss the challenges of translating culture-specific references appropriately and creatively. We also explore complex general notions—such as culture, translation, linguistic/cultural mediation, translation competence, and translation strategy—and cover broader topics, including views on dubbing and subtitling, the benefits of translation in language learning, and translation as a profession. Participants will bring examples from their own language(s) and culture(s) and work on a longer translation project in culturally diverse teams, based on a text of their choice. The course provides an opportunity to develop an awareness of one’s own and sensitivity to others’ linguistic and cultural identities by engaging with diversity and difference. The course is open for both Finnish and international exchange students interested in languages and cultures with or without background knowledge in linguistics.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the course, participants are expected to

  • Understand the complexity of the notions of culture, translation, and mediation.
  • Have a deeper understanding of translation as an act—including social, cultural, and ideological dimensions—and translation as a profession.
  • Recognize the value of translation in language education.
  • Be able to select the most appropriate macro- and micro-level translation strategies to solve translation problems arising from cultural differences.

Completion methods

Method 1

Evaluation criteria:
Regular and active participation. Successful completion of the main assignments (project work and group presentation). Smaller practical or reading tasks throughout the course.
Select all marked parts
Parts of the completion methods

Participation in teaching (2 cr)

Participation in teaching
Grading scale:
Pass - fail