The Centre of Expertise for Literary Translation (ELV) furthers the quality of literary translation into and from Dutch through education, training and the sharing of expertise. We do this by strengthening the knowledge, skills and professionalism of translators, educators and related organisations.

The ELV is a partnership between the Taalunie (Union for the Dutch Language), KU Leuven and Utrecht University, in cooperation with Flanders Literature and the Dutch Foundation for Literature. It was set up by the Taalunie in 2001. Like the Taalunie, the ELV is a joint Dutch/Flemish organisation.

What we do

  • We facilitate individual support (development grants and mentorships) for translators into and from Dutch, whereby translators who are new to the profession work on the translation of a literary text one-on-one with an experienced translator as mentor.
  • We facilitate and organise online and offline courses and other educational activities, such as guest lectures and seminars.
  • We help to organise courses for languages that are not covered by existing translation study programmes. This applies in particular to translation from Dutch into other languages.
  • We develop knowledge that can be used for the training of translators both within Dutch-speaking areas and beyond. We are involved in the further development and dissemination of the Framework for Literary Translation, published in 2016.
  • We gather information and share knowledge (in Dutch) which is relevant to literary translators and other interested parties through our website, the Knowledge Bank (a database containing articles, overview pages and information), the newsletter and social media.
  • We participate in national and international networks around literary translation (PETRA-E, ESLT) and advise and, where necessary, cooperate with other organisations in the field of translation, education and training around the core language of Dutch.

An English version of our policy plan, which provides further insights into our mission, vision and activities, can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

Who we are

The board decides on policy and manages the team. It consists of Luc Delrue (secretary-general of the Taalunie, chair), Elke Brems (KU Leuven), Haidee Kotze (Utrecht University), Romkje de Bildt (managing director, Dutch Foundation for Literature) and Paul Hermans (director, Flanders Literature). The secretary to the board is Folkert de Vriend (Taalunie). The board meets twice a year.

The team implements the policy and consists of office staff members Gea Schelhaas (director), Sander Grasman, Bodil Ponte and Tom Ruben and academic staff members Gys-Walt van Egdom (Utrecht University) and Chris Van de Poel (KU Leuven).

The office is based at Utrecht University.

Call to action in support of translation

In 2019, the ELV presented a publication entitled Translating for the future. A new call to action for a flourishing translation culture. On 25 May 2019, this was presented to Luc Delrue (secretary-general at the Department of Culture, Youth and Media of the Government of Flanders) and Barbera Wolfensberger (director-general of Culture and Media at the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science).

Over the past decade we have seen the emergence of multiple threats to a resilient and flourishing translation culture in the Netherlands and Flanders, threats so serious that we are left to wonder whether there will be sufficient numbers of translators in the years ahead. These developments give ample reason for this call to action, in which we will consider the role, significance and position of translation and the translator.

We have noted the following developments:

  • A declining interest in languages other than English
  • The limited expansion opportunities for language and translation programmes
  • The limited resources of Dutch departments at universities abroad
  • The vulnerable position of literary translators

The full call to action and our proposals for rectifying the situation can be downloaded in English below.