Word for Word: An Initiative in Collaborative Translation

Word for Word is a collaborative translation initiative under the auspices of Literary Translation at Columbia (LTAC), the Writing Program’s translation curriculum and joint course of study.

Launched in 2011 by Professor Binnie Kirshenbaum as an international student exchange program with the Deutsches Literaturinstitut Leipzig, Word for Word has since paired School of the Arts students with emerging writers studying in partner writing programs to translate one another into and out of American Sign Language, Arabic, Catalan, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. The program’s purpose is not only to provide emerging translators with valuable experience and a global network, but also to encourage writers to engage with their own language in a new and deeper way through the medium of literary translation and the experience of cross-cultural collaboration.

Word for Word, overseen since 2013 by Professor & LTAC Director Susan Bernofsky, currently operates on two models: a one-semester workshop that does not require travel (though students may apply for travel funds at the conclusion of the course), and a fully-funded international exchange. The spring 2022 workshop is open to students translating Chinese, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. Stay tuned for more information regarding future exchanges. 


Current Partner Institutions

Deutsches Literaturinstitut Leipzig
Leipzig, Germany

Fudan University
Shanghai, China

Instituto Vera Cruz
São Paulo, Brazil

Scuola Holden
Turin, Italy

Universidad Diego Portales
Santiago, Chile

Université Paris 8
Paris, France