After reading Romance Studies, German Studies and Philosophy in Frankfurt, Tübingen and Paris, Jürgen Trabant received a doctorate at Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen in 1969. From 1980 to 2008 he was a Professor of Linguistics at the Institute for Romance Philology at Freie Universität Berlin. He was Head of French Studies there until 2008.
Since 1987 he has been a member of the Interdisciplinary Centre »Historical Anthropology« at FU Berlin. From 2003 to 2008 Jürgen Trabant was the rector of Studienkolleg zu Berlin (Berlin Study Centre). He taught as a Professor of European Plurilingualism at Jacobs University Bremen from 2008 to 2013. He was also a guest professor at Stanford University, at the University of California, Davis, and at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris, Leipzig, Limoges, Bologna, Brasília und Milan. Additionally he was a Fellow at Collegium Budapest and at IFK Wien as well as a member of the Historisches Kolleg in Munich.
Jürgen Trabant became a charter member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) in 1992 and is Vice Secretary of Humanities . He is co-speaker for the research training group »Bildakt und Verkörperung«. He is almost as proud of his three medals, Ordre national du Mérite, Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana, as he is of his membership of the Excellence Cluster.
History of European language and thought, philosophy of language, language policy, historical anthropology of language, articulation in a symbolic language, symbolic articulation (language and picture).