Interview with Themis Kaniklidou


Themis Kaniklidou is Assistant Professor in Translation Studies and Associate Director of the Ph.D. programme at the Hellenic American University. She holds a B.A. in Translation, M.A. in Specialised Translation and completed her Ph.D. in Translation Studies at the University of Athens where she wrote her thesis on Narrative Theory and News Translation. Her research interests include: narrative analysis in Translation Studies, ideology and discourse in translation, narrative and language, discourse analysis, intercultural communication, framing, media discourse. She has worked in the Greek translation industry as an in-house and freelance translator and has translated numerous documents (EU, technical, business, legal). Themis has participated in various projects that link academia with the translation industry and EU institutions, such as OPTIMALE, an EU-funded program on Optimizing Professional Translator Training in a Multilingual Europe. She is the director of the terminological project between the Hellenic American University and TermCoord.

Why is Terminology your passion_1

  • Having seen your educational background, one could say that translation was your destiny. Why did you decide to study translation and what do you find fascinating about this discipline?

As most translators, I studied translation out of love of languages. However, it soon became clear to me that translation extends over and above linguistic knowledge. It is more than a linguistic “ping-pong” between the source and the target language. I realized that that it was about change, transformation, and about some loss of “textual energy” during the transfer. I soon realized that the skills needed for translators extend far beyond the linguistic ones and include cultural knowledge, thematic knowledge and technological savviness. It was also about balance, balance between accuracy and fluency and that balance was often not easy to achieve or an almost always elusive.

  • How important has terminology been in your career as a translator?Themis-Kaniklidou_picture

In the beginning of my career terminology was a silent partner. It was always there, often working “under the radar” and other times very visible in the text depending on the type of text at hand. I could recognize it but I was not always very successful with retrieving equivalents. The big turning point came after my MA studies at the University of Surrey. I was lucky to have Professor Margaret Rogers in my terminology classes and she offered great insights as to how terminology organizes reality. I saw terminology then as a clear and inescapable way of ordering reality, of putting name to concepts and seeing the interplay between world knowledge and language knowledge.

  • Attention to terminology and terminography as an integral part of the translation competence are mentioned as one of the strengths of the Master’s in Translation at the Hellenic American College. Could you tell us how is terminology included in the studies?

Terminology and terminography have always been a part of the curriculum in the Master of Arts in Translation at Hellenic American University as we had understood that it is a key competence for translator success. Both the Provost of the University, Dr. Triant Flouris, myself and other faculty in the program have been following closely the guidelines of the Directorate-General for Translation on translator training and it was clear that terminology had been a competence singled out by the DGT. We decided to integrate terminology by offering a full course on terminology and terminography in the first semester and then terminology remains a featured competence throughout all other courses. The design of the Program has been such that it gives students the chance to train on different types of texts and in particular texts that terminology is a challenge (such as highly technical texts on engineering or telecommunications).

  • You are the coordinator of the cooperation between TermCoord and the Hellenic American College. What projects have your students participated in and how did they enjoy it? Why do you think is it important for them to take part in such projects?

The cooperation with TermCoord has been a fascinating experience both for myself and the students. It has been a project that helps students gain experience with an EU project while receiving guidance both HAU and the TermCoord. We have been cooperating very closely with Mr. Emmanuel Peclaris, who has been validating the terms that we have been submitting and his role in the project has been more than key. So far, we have worked on the domains of information technology, intragroup transactions, and now we are working on waste management. This year we introduced an innovation to the project; we enlarged the team and apart from translation students, we included a student from our Engineering Programs, Mr. Alexandros Manolis, who, together with the Director of the Program, Dr. Bravos, have been assisting translators in building up their knowledge and resource base.

  • What is your opinion on the EU terminology resources that provides?

Termcoord has been doing a very good job with introducing resources for terminology. I particularly like the way that the resources are presented and how easy it is to navigate. Being a part of the project with IATE has made me see IATE both from the inside and its public version and I have been really impressed by the majority of supplementary information translators get. One thing that Termcoord has succeeded in is to help students overcome any fear of terminology, particularly in the beginning of their studies.

  • You participated in the European project OPTIMALE that ended in 2013. One of the goals of this project was to implement professional translator training in University education of translators. How successful was the project in your opinion and how has the educating of translators changed since?

The OPTIMALE project was all about optimizing translator training across different institutions offering translation programs in the EU. It offered us great opportunity to see what other institutions are doing with areas of translator training such as internships or project simulation. The project was successful but I regret that not many spin-offs came after it.

  • What do you think about the idea that Terminology and Translation should be studied as separate disciplines?

I believe that theory-based or theory-oriented terminology can be studied as a separate discipline but I am a very passionate supporter of the interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary nature of terminology exactly because it connects to knowledge about the world; I certainly cannot think of contemporary translation studies without terminology in the curriculum.

  • Last year, you helped organise the conference “Europe in Discourse: Identity, Diversity, Borders“. In addition, your PhD. dissertation concentrated on the analysis of the translating of newspaper headlines. In your opinion, how does translating of the news influence the current situation in Europe?

The Conference Europe in Discourse: Identity, Diversity, Borders has been one of those high-impact initiatives, both for the University and our community. It was a Conference that was originally conceived by and organized upon the initiative of the President of Hellenic American University, Mr. Leonidas-Phoebus Koskos, led academically by the Director of the PhD program Professor Juliane House and embraced by our Provost, Dr. Flouris and the entire university community. We wanted to open the discussion about the role of language is shaping identities and creating narratives in and about Europe and interrogate about what being European means. News translation can shape different identities about “Europeaness”. It can do so by using a different language to tell a news story originally conceived and told in another environment that of the source text and for a different audience.

  • How important is according to you multilingualism for the European Union?

I am a big supporter of multilingualism in the EU and EU policy on that has been overly generous by awarding official language status to member states. What is particularly important is that multilingualism and its role in the EU shows that the EU cannot solely be a technocratic project. Promoting multilingualism means understanding diversity and difference not as a barrier but as a key element of a shared European identity.



Written by Simona Pecháňová. Simona came to TermCoord for a Study Visit in January 2017. She is currently a student of the Master’s in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. She finished her Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature and French Language and Literature at Charles University in Prague in 2015. During her Bachelor’s she spent a year abroad at the University of St.Thomas in Minnesota studying English and Education. After graduating she spent one year working in an EAL department at a secondary school in England and translating for school representatives and parents played a major part of her role. Therefore, she greatly appreciated the classes in Terminology and Translation at the University of Luxembourg and she is looking forward to learning more about the field in the future.


Post edited by Doris Fernandes del Pozo – Journalist, Translator-Interpreter and Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament. She is pursuing a PhD as part of the Communication and Contemporary Information Programme of the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain).