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Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication


David M. Bellos

Executive Committee

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Philosophy, University Center for Human Values

David M. Bellos, French and Italian, Comparative Literature

Sandra L. Bermann, Comparative Literature

William Bialek, Physics, Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics

James A. Boon, Anthropology

Caryl G. Emerson, Slavic Languages and Literatures, Comparative Literature

Rubén Gallo, Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures

Adele E. Goldberg, Council of the Humanities, Linguistics

Daniel Heller-Roazen, Comparative Literature

Joshua T. Katz, Classics

Martin Kern, East Asian Studies

Paul B. Muldoon, Lewis Center for the Arts, Creative Writing

Daniel N. Osherson, Psychology

Alan W. Patten, Politics

Robert E. Schapire, Computer Science

Kim Lane Scheppele, Woodrow Wilson School, University Center for Human Values, Sociology

Jeffrey L. Stout, Religion

C. K. Williams, Lewis Center for the Arts, Creative Writing

Michael G. Wood, English, Comparative Literature

Associated Faculty

Nigel Smith, English

Sits with Committee

Christiane D. Fellbaum, Computer Science

Issues of translation and intercultural communication arise everywhere in the contemporary world: in literary texts, on the Internet, in television and film, in business, in science, and in questions of human rights. How does one translate the language of a poem? How does one translate a legal system or concepts such as democracy, or happiness, or scapegoat, or hero from one culture and language to another? How does the brain perform translation? What are the languages of artificial intelligence? How do we translate meanings across disciplinary as well as international borders--from genomics to dance, from philosophy to film?

The Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication, an affiliate of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, seeks to allow students to develop skills in language use and in the understanding of cultural and disciplinary difference. Translation across languages allows access to issues of intercultural differences, and the program will encourage its students to think about the complexity of communicating across cultures, nations, and linguistic borders. For this reason, all students in the program must have proficiency in a language other than English, and must also spend time living in a country where that language is spoken.

Though the program takes linguistic translation as its base, and has a strong international flavor, it also encourages students to study other forms of discourse, the languages of different scholarly disciplines, for example, and seeks to foster lively debates among the social sciences, natural sciences, humanities, material sciences, engineering, and the arts.

Admission to the Program

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.

Students seeking admission to the program should contact the program manager.

Program of Study

All students enrolled in the certificate program are required to successfully complete the following:

1. The program's two core courses: TRA 200 Thinking Translation: Language Transfer and Cultural Communication and TRA 400 Senior Seminar in Translation and Intercultural Communication.

2. Translation Practices. At least one course selected from a small roster of courses in different areas. For 2010-11, students may choose from among the following courses (note: an asterisk indicates one-time-only course or topic):

ANT 413 Cultures and Critical Translation
COS 402  Artificial Intelligence
CWR 305 Advanced Creative Writing (Translation) (also COM 355)
CWR 306 Advanced Creative Writing (Translation) (also COM 356)
*HIS 397  Translation in the History of Science
LIN 216  Language, Mind, and Brain (also PSY 216)
*LIN 308  Bilingualism (also TRA 303)
PHI 317  Philosophy of Language
PSY 208  The Brain: A User's Guide
SPA 309  Translation: Cultures in Context
*TRA 301 Introduction to Machine Translation (also COS 401)
*TRA 304 Translating East Asia (also EAS 446)

3. Three additional elective courses selected from a list of approved courses (see program website); substitutes must be approved by the program director. Students will be closely guided in their individual choices, and departments will be invited to make their own suggestions for their contributions to this certificate.

4. International Experience. See Study and Work Abroad below.

5. Senior Thesis. 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.

Study and Work Abroad

Students wishing 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.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill all requirements for the program will receive a certificate of proficiency in translation and intercultural communication upon graduation.

Approved Electives. A list of courses currently approved as electives may be found on the program website.


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

An introduction to a wide range of issues arising in the many acts of translation that constitute the modern world. Built on a central thread of reflection about translating between languages--What is a language? What is meaning? What is meant by "equivalence"?--the course looks at issues in international relations, anthropology, artificial intelligence, cinema studies, literature, law, etc., that involve the boundaries of interlingual translation and intercultural communication to acquire a better understanding of the problems and practices of translation in the modern world. One lecture, one preceptorial. D. Bellos

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

With increased globalization, the need to communicate across linguistic barriers is constantly rising. There is a range of software and services in the market place that provide translation from one human language to another at varying degrees of sophistication and complexity. In this course, you will learn the inner workings of machine translation technology and gain the experience of building a simple machine translation system for a few language pairs. Students are required to have programming experience or should have completed COS 126. TRA 200 is recommended and may be taken simultaneously. One lecture, one preceptorial. S. Bangalore

TRA 303 Bilingualism (see LIN 308)

TRA 400 Senior Seminar in Translation and Intercultural Communication (also COM 409)   Fall LA

Required for all students pursuing the certificate in translation and intercultural communication. This course returns to many of the questions raised in TRA 200, and incorporates the experiences of individual seminar members in their contact with different languages (in the broadest sense) and in developing their senior theses. Selected key texts in literature, film, politics, and philosophy will provide a shared ground for weekly discussions. Prerequisite: 200. One three-hour seminar. M. Wood