Bias and Translation
Workshop for translators

23 & 24 April | Online
10 am to 3.30 pm CET

The Goethe-Institut invites translators and students of translation as well as translation scientists to a two-day-workshop on the topic of bias and translation. The workshop is mainly intended for participants from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, UK, Ireland and the Netherlands who translate from German into other languages, but participants from other countries are welcome. 

Eye, bubbles and mouth. © Goethe-Institut. Illustration: EL BOUM Language is never neutral, the words we choose to express facts or opinions alike, originate from our experience, our attitudes and believes. The same is true for translation. This is particularly evident in some areas: When writing about and translating texts about topics of gender, race and identity a sensitive approach is required in order to not reproduce bias. 

The aim of the workshop is to discuss translations of biased terms from German into other languages and to find solutions for bias-conscious use of language and translation in the different languages of the participants.  

The Event

23.04.-24.04., Online via Zoom

Day 1
will focus on discussing bias and our position as translators and users of language. We will look into the origin of bias within language - which is made by humans, but can be amplified by machine translation. How can we use these tools, and where do we need to be careful? The experts Madeleijn van den NieuwenhuizenDanielle Saunders, Emilia RoigImke Brodersen and Illi Anna Heger will give short input-lectures.  

Programme 23.4.
10.00 (CET) Presentation of the project
10.15 – 11.00 Madeleijn van den Nieuwenhuizen: Language and Power
11.00 – 11.45 Danielle Saunders: Gender in machine translation

12-13 Lunch break (to network and get to know each other)

13.00 Presentation of the programme
13.15 – 13.45 Dr. Emilia Roig: Why Intersectionality is not a luxury
13.45 – 14.15 Imke Brodersen: Do machine translation tools influence gender perception?
14.15 – 14.45 Illi Anna Heger: xier pronouns - filling a gap in German gendered grammar
14.45 – 15.30 Discussion about the day's topics and how to go on tomorrow

Day 2 will focus on group work with texts and terms related to race, gender and identity and close with an evaluation of the group work and the discussions of the workshop. 

The languages of the workshop are English and German.

Host: Maia Kahlke Lorentzen

We will use Zoom for the workshop. Please register until 18.04.2021 via this link:

>> Registration



The possibility of a joint lunch on both days is offered for the participants to network and exchange thoughts and ideas in an informal way. 

The participation is free of charge

For more information, suggestions or questions, please contact us via e-mail.


Madeleijn van den Nieuwenhuizen is a legal historian and a media critic in the Netherlands. She received her Master's from Columbia University in political history, and is a current Fulbright PhD candidate at the City University of New York. In 2016 she founded the media critical Instagram account @Zeikschrift, which examines stereotyping, misinformation and exclusionary language in Dutch media. It has a following of over 80.000 people. Madeleijn is interested in inequality, language and power, and ethics of media. She writes op-eds for newspapers NRC and Parool, essays for VOGUE Netherlands and has her own newsletter Vrijschrift. Magazine Opzij placed her in the top 10 of most influential women in media in the Netherlands. She usually lives in New York, but has been in Europe due to Covid for the past year. 

Danielle Saunders is a research scientist at SDL (an intelligent language and content company) working on machine translation. She previously completed her PhD working on ways to adapt machine translation to translating new topics, such as going from news translation to scientific translation. Through this work she became interested in the ways machine translation handles - or fails to handle - gender, and whether similar adaptation or "unlearning" approaches could improve matters.

Emilia Roig (she/her) is founder and director of the Center for Intersectional Justice (CIJ) and author of the book „WHY WE MATTER. Das Ende der Unterdrückung“ [WHY WE MATTER. The End of Oppression] She is a lecturer in the Social Justice Study Abroad Program at DePaul University of Chicago and teaches Intersectionality Theory, Postcolonial Studies and Critical Race Theory, and international and European law. From 2007 to 2010, she worked extensively in the field of human rights with the International Labour Organisation in Tanzania and Uganda, and at the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) in Cambodia, as well as with Amnesty International in Germany. She holds a PhD in Political Science, a Master of Public Policy and an MBA in International Law. She is a jury member of the 2020 German Nonfiction Prize and was on the jury of the 25th Edition F Women's Award in 2019, and was named a 2020 Ashoka Fellow.

Imke Brodersen is a German literary translator for fiction and non-fiction (EN/SP > DE) with about 200 published books since 1991. She is also a trained medical translator and has developed a keen interest in the use of modern technology for creative work. In November 2019, she took part in a panel discussion on machine translation and AI for text production at LC Berlin and presented her research project „Die Lernkurve von DeepL“ on the BDÜ Translators‘ Conference in Bonn in 2019. Imke is a blog editor at DVÜD, a German association of freelance translators and interpreters, and loves to discuss gender topics and developments in machine translation including their consequences for remuneration and copyright issues on this platform.

Illi Anna Heger is an author of comics and graphic storytelling. They are non-binary trans and, originally form Berlin, live in Munich. In 2009, they started developing  pronouns to complete German grammar with xier-pronouns, which does not indicate gender. Having studied several languages in their lifetime helped immensely to detangle their mother tongue’s grammar. Xier, xies and more are continually being improved and are already used in books, articles or subtitles.