Translators Associations Europe: CETL

Literary Translation as Art

Translation Associations Europe: CETLThe European Centre for Literary Translation (Centre Européen de Traduction Littéraire, CETL) was born from the joint efforts of Belgium’s French Community and the Higher Institute of Translators and Interpreters of the French Community (Institut Supérieur de Traducteurs et Interprètes de la Communauté Francaise, ISTICF).

This translation association based in Brussels is responsible for postgraduate training and coaching in literary translation. It organises seminars and workshops conducted by the most important practitioners, at different times, for everyone to be able to attend.

Following a “unique formula for the lovers of literary translation”, CETL’s strong points, as referred by the people in charge of the translators association, are the seminars and the workshops, mainly because of the afore-mentioned internationally renowned guests. The coaching courses with a more theoretical tendency as well as the stimulating workshops dedicated to writing in French come as an extra that completes the training.

All these strategies serve as a “hub of trade” exchanged with the professional world of literary translation – through translation companies – and of books – through publishing houses. Proofreaders representing some of the most preeminent publishing companies are part of the jury that assesses a final exam which evaluates memory. CETL is a pool from which publishers and cultural institutions may take developed and trained talents, supervised by writing professionals.

The cycle of training in literary translation extends along two years, each time from January to December. Workshops and courses occur during weekends, two or three times per month. All school holidays are respected. If you’re a translator, a member of a translators association or a student in the field, you may be interested in getting in touch with CETL for more information.

For the European centre, the fact that literary translation is an art in its own right makes that it cannot be taught and learned in the same way as an exact science. Just like painting or music, “the art of transposing texts written by authors may be developed in those who, since the beginning, prove to have the talent or the gift”.

CETL prides itself in being able to trust “the greatest practitioners of literary translation” the task of communicating their savoir faire to their pupils, through the seminars and the workshops, always completed with a cycle of high-levelled conferences concerning writing and literary translation.

The Brussels translation association makes a point at saying that “given that literary translation is a rewriting in the language of the translator, in this case, he is also a writer”. This originates that CETIL’s training is completed by writing workshops – in French – that stimulate creativity.

Networking is an important part of CETL’s mission. When it comes to raising awareness of the importance of being conscious professionals, it is imperative to keep the eyes wide open and the ears set on the world.


The workshops and seminars, mainly aimed at professionally active people, happen on Saturdays only, from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm to 4pm.

As for the complete cycle, as mentioned before, it covers two civil years, each time from January to December. The first term is dedicated to teaching the basic rules of the profession and the fundamental techniques of literary translation.

This course aims at making the student aware of how specific the numerous literary genres are (novel, short novel, theatre, poetry, science-fiction, literature for children and young people) and also to take into account the vast domain of human sciences (philosophy, sociology, history, art, musicology, etc.).

The workshops are completed by seminars during which contemporary French texts are analysed, as well as by detailed courses about the publishing world, copyrights and translation contracts.

Two different formulas are offered, depending whether French is the original language or the destination language.

There are also professional placements regularly available thanks to CETL, at the Seneffe European College for Literary Tranlators (Collège Européen des Traducteurs Littéraires de Seneffe, CTLS), during the Easter period.

Furthermore, CETL organises distance-learning courses for candidates residing outside Belgium.

Admission Conditions

All courses are available to people who have a degree in philology, translation, languages or linguistics, or in another way related with philosophy and writing (for example, journalism, art history, etc.). In case candidates don’t fulfil the mentioned conditions, they will be submitted to an admission test.

A maximum of 15 students per class is estimated.

Keep in mind that around the world there are around 130 million French speakers.

Lexis is happy to receive and publish news on events and other initiatives by your translators association. Please send us the press releases by your translation association to the email address Lexis – Connections with meaning

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