Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication



  • Karen R. Emmerich

Executive Committee

  • Wendy Laura Belcher, Comparative Literature
  • David M. Bellos, French & Italian
  • Rubén Gallo, Spanish & Portuguese
  • Michael D. Gordin, History
  • Barbara Graziosi, Classics
  • Thomas W. Hare, Comparative Literature
  • Martin Kern, East Asian Studies
  • Yiyun Li, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Eileen A. Reeves, Comparative Literature
  • Esther H. Schor, English
  • Nigel Smith, English
  • Max D. Weiss, History

Associated Faculty

  • Sandra L. Bermann, Comparative Literature

Sits with Committee

  • Christiane D. Fellbaum
For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.

Program Information

Issues of translation and intercultural communication arise everywhere in the contemporary world.  What makes a good translation?  Are there different kinds of "good translations" for different circumstances?  How do multilingual speakers navigate among their languages, and how do translators and interpreters deal with the challenges presented by multilingual tests and contexts?  How does machine translation work?  What are the challenges for Sign Language interpretation?  How does one translate the language of a poem or a play?

The Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication (PTIC) takes linguistic translation as its base and offers a diverse set of undergraduate courses that allow students to develop an understanding of translation from varied perspectives.  Most courses are taught by faculty in humanities departments, but we also consider the ways translation functions in the social sciences, the arts, and engineering.  Students from all backgrounds with a range of interests and passions are welcome.

PTIC's programs include regular lunchtime talks, conferences, and winter session translation workshops. Each semester the program hosts a visiting Translator in Residence, who shares their real-world experiences of life and work as a translator. The program also supports student translation projects with summer funding. 

The program offers a Certificate of Proficiency to undergraduates who develop skills in language use and an understanding of the complexity of communicating across cultures, nations, and linguistic borders.  Before entering the certificate program, students must have completed two courses at the 200 level or above in a language other than English, or have tested out of the University's language requirement.  To earn the certificate, students are required to successfully complete two core courses in translation, four TRA cross-listed courses, or other courses in which translation plays a major role, study or internship abroad, and independent work that incorporates issues of translation.

Among PTIC's goals are connecting translators with one another and encouraging them to use their talents and energies in the service of the wider community.  To this end, the program supports the Princeton University Language Project (PULP), a student-led initiative that offers free translation services to nonprofits.  Beyond campus, PTIC supports activities that seek to link the academic community with voluntary and professional groups serving a wide variety of organizations with translation needs, including the New Jersey judiciary, the United Nations, and literary publishing. 

(Note: The Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication does not offer translator training.) 

Program of Study

All students enrolled in the certificate program are required to successfully complete the following program requirements.  Each student's specific course of study must be approved by the program director:

1. The program's two core courses: TRA 200 Thinking Translation: Language Transfer and Cultural Communication, and TRA 400 Translation, Migration, Culture.

2. Four courses at the 200 level or above from at least two of the following three categories:

 a) Upper-level courses focusing on translation into and/or from a language (examples include: SPA 380, FRE 407, ARA 308, and CWR 306)

b) Courses that contribute to an understanding of some aspect of translation (may be found in disciplines such as linguistics, psychology, philosophy, anthropology, history, comparative literature, etc.)

c) Any course listed or cross-listed by the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication (with the exception of TRA 200 and TRA 400)

Courses outside of these categories that contribute to an understanding of intercultural and interlingual communication may be substituted at the discretion of the program director.

3. International Experience. See Study or Work Abroad below. (Note: Due to the change in global circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, this requirement will be waived for the Class of 2023.)

4. Independent Work. Students in the program will write a senior thesis that incorporates issues of translation in one or more of its several senses. In departments where this option presents a difficulty, a student may petition to have another piece of independent work meet the requirement.  Such projects may be completed, for instance, during a summer stay abroad.

International Experience/Study or Work Abroad

Students who wish to achieve a certificate in the program will spend a year, a semester, or six weeks of the summer in a Princeton-approved course of study or internship program in an area where the chosen non-English language of proficiency is spoken.

Language Requirement

In order to enter the program, a student should normally have completed at least two courses at the 200 level or above in a language other than English or have tested out of the University's language requirement.

Students who fulfill all requirements for the program will receive a certificate of proficiency in Translation and Intercultural Communication upon graduation.



TRA 200 Thinking Translation: Language Transfer and Cultural Communication (also
COM 209
HUM 209
) Fall LA

What is translation? What is a language? So essential and widespread is translation today that it has become a central analytic term for the contact of cultures, and a paradigm for studying many different aspects of our multilingual world. This course will consider translation as it appeared in the past, but especially as it constructs everyday life in the contemporary world. It will look at issues of anthropology, artificial intelligence, diplomacy, film, law and literature that involve interlingual and intercultural communication. Students should acquire an understanding of the problems and practices of modern translation. Instructed by: D. Bellos

TRA 203 What is a Classic? (See CLA 203)

TRA 204 Creative Writing (Literary Translation) (See CWR 205)

TRA 205 A Survey of American Sign Language (See LIN 205)

TRA 206 Creative Writing (Literary Translation) (See CWR 206)

TRA 208 Origins and Nature of English Vocabulary (See CLA 208)

TRA 210 Introduction to Spanish-English Translation (See SPA 210)

TRA 214 Advanced American Sign Language (See LIN 214)

TRA 219 Translating America (See ENG 219)

TRA 300 Advanced Sanskrit: Vedic Language, Grammar, and Literature (See SAN 300)

TRA 301 Introduction to Machine Translation (also
COS 401
LIN 304
) Spring

This course will provide an in-depth study of the Machine Translation paradigms (direct, transfer, statistical/example, interlingua and neural network) used in state-of-the-art speech-to-speech and text-based MT systems, from computational and linguistic perspectives. Techniques for processing human languages (morphological analysis, tagging, syntactic and semantic parsing, and language generation) will be discussed. Linguistic variation across languages and its impact on computational models will be presented. Projects will involve implementing speech/text translation components, identifying their limitations and suggesting improvements. Instructed by: S. Bangalore

TRA 302 Topics in Hindi-Urdu (See HIN 304)

TRA 303 Bilingualism (See LIN 308)

TRA 305 Advanced Creative Writing (Literary Translation) (See CWR 305)

TRA 309 Theory and Practice of Arabic to English Translation (See ARA 308)

TRA 310 Advanced Philosophical Sanskrit (See SAN 304)

TRA 311 Topics in German Culture and Society (See GER 307)

TRA 314 Advanced Creative Writing (Literary Translation) (See CWR 306)

TRA 326 Language, Identity, Power (See ANT 326)

TRA 332 Who Owns This Sentence? Copyright Culture from the Romantic Era to the Age of the Internet (See COM 332)

TRA 351 Great Books from Little Languages (See COM 351)

TRA 357 Literature, Culture, and Politics (See FRE 357)

TRA 380 Translation Workshop: Spanish to English (See SPA 380)

TRA 390 The Bible as Literature (See ENG 390)

TRA 400 Translation, Migration, Culture (also
COM 409
HUM 400
) Fall SA

This course will explore the crucial connections between migration, language, and translation. Drawing on texts from a range of genres and disciplines - from memoir and fiction to scholarly work in translation studies, migration studies, political science, anthropology, and sociology - we will focus on how language and translation affect the lives of those who move through and settle in other cultures, and how, in turn, human mobility affects language and modes of belonging. Instructed by: K. Emmerich

TRA 402 Radical Poetics, Radical Translation (See COM 402)

TRA 407 Prose Translation (See FRE 407)

TRA 408 Practical Translation (See RUS 408)

TRA 450 Global Publishing: Translation, Media, Migration (See COM 450)