Closing date: 6 Mehefin / June 2019

Key Information

Start date: October 2019

Subject areas: Modern Languages, Translation, Welsh, Linguistics, Literature

Swansea University invites applications for a fully-funded PhD research studentship on the topic of ‘the Untranslatable’. This studentship is funded by the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and Swansea University. The doctoral thesis will be researched and written through the medium of Welsh. The studentship is available for a period of three years for research leading to the award of a doctorate.

The word and concept of ‘hiraeth’ in Welsh is a prominent example of what is known as the untranslatable, alongside other examples such as ‘hwyl’ and ‘cynefin’. The ‘untranslatable’ can vary from concepts and philosophy to entire works, specific contexts, and individual aspects such as humour, customs / traditions and idioms. It can also encompass works which cannot be adapted or performed in another genre or language.

The concept of the untranslatable continues to provoke interest in translation studies, and diverse translation difficulties have long been the focus of discussions amongst translators, alongside debates about syntax, references, register and culture [see Angharad Price, ‘Cyfoeth Cyfieithu’, Taliesin, 100, Gaeaf 1997, 11-39]. Nevertheless, there has been no detailed study of the untranslatable in the Welsh and Welsh-language context to date.

In the only studies to hitherto consider Welsh, in the renowned volume the Dictionary of Untranslatables (2014, ed. Cassin, Apter and Lezra), there is only a brief reference to the use of the future tense in Welsh, and Untranslatability: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2019, ed. Large, Akashi, Józwikowska, and Rose) refers to 1980s fiction in Welsh as an example of untranslatable literature.

This project’s potential research questions include:

1. What are the cultural and political implications of the ‘untranslatable’?

2. By highlighting the ‘untranslatable’, to what extent do we create new borders between cultures or defend the idea of essential cultural differences?

3. What are the implications for cultural relations, e.g. between Wales and the rest of Europe, and between Wales and Latin America?

4. To what extent can the ‘untranslatable’ carry out ‘political work’ [see Emily Apter (2014/2016)], e.g. in Wales, the ‘Welsh Colony’ [Patagonia], or Catalonia?

The successful candidate will help shape the future direction of two collaborating departments. Researchers in the departments of Welsh and Modern Languages undertake internationally-recognised, multi-disciplinary research, in a unique national context where not only bilingualism is promoted and celebrated, but the learning of languages other than English and Welsh is strongly valued and supported. The research of every member of the proposed supervisory team for this PhD is able to draw on more than one language. The successful candidate will also benefit from the findings of the departments’ major collaborative research projects, such as ‘CorCenCC’ which has created a significant language resource for speakers, learners and researchers of the Welsh language, and the ‘European Travellers to Wales’ project.

Supervision on the untranslatable is offered in the fields of:

  • Welsh
  • French, German, Spanish (Spain and Latin America)
  • Translation and interpreting studies
  • Linguistics and language policy
  • Theatre studies and adaptations
  • Comparative literature, travel writing, translingual fiction.

Interdisciplinary, multicultural and transnational studies are welcomed, as well as studies investigating the relationship between Welsh / Welsh-language cultures and European / Latin American cultures, comparing different languages / cultures / frameworks.

Depending on the focus of the successful project, possible methodological tools include textual analysis; social, political and historical contextual studies; corpus analysis; lexicography and terminology; comparative translations; translation visualisation; computer-assisted translation and translation technologies.

For more details please see here:

Administrative Contacts & How To Apply

To apply, please complete and submit the following documents to Liz Whitwell (

For enquiries please contact Dr Kathryn Jones ( / +44 (0)1554 836972 ).

Entry Requirements

Candidates will normally have gained at least an upper second-class honours degree (2.i), and have successfully completed a taught postgraduate course in a relevant field before 31 July 2019:

  • Welsh
  • French, German, Spanish (Spain and Latin America)
  • Translation and interpreting studies
  • Linguistics and language policy
  • Theatre studies and adaptations
  • Comparative literature, travel writing, translingual fiction.

Due to funding restrictions this scholarship is open to UK/EU candidates only.

Funding Notes

The studentship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees and a maintenance grant of around £15,009 per year, for the three years of the award.

Additional funding up to £500 per year [funded by the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol] is available for other research expenses.

Funding Information

Application Deadline:

6 June 2019

Please see our website for how to apply:
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