Translation and the Messiah of Language

Seyed Saeed Habibi


By adopting a different outlook, the present study endeavors to explain Walter Benjamin’s The Translator’s Task as an attempt to introduce new dimensions to translation studies. To do so, first the intention behind the creation of The Translator’s Task was explained through studying key elements proposed in The Translator’s Task and searching for instances of these significant factors. It was concluded that The Translator’s Task is a reply to the indeterminist nature of languages in the field of translation. Secondly, a translation model based on The Translator’s Task was provided and explained. The model used target language lexicon and source language syntax to fully accommodate what was proposed in The Translator’s Task. This model was used to produce a sample translation from English to Persian, which was later compared with a published translation. In order to determine the quality of translation, level of determinacy by the ST was assigned as a criterion. To achieve this, each TT was compared with the ST through a back-translation bottom-up analysis and each unit of translation was later categorized as D – determined and positive – or U – undetermined and negative. Finally, the results highlighted the high levels of determinacy by the ST in the sample translation based on the provided model. The published translation, which was a domesticated one, showed lower levels of determinacy by the ST as these kinds of translations are mainly based on the interpretations of the ST.  

Keywords: Walter Benjamin, The Translator’s Task, pure language, radical literalism

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