Fragmentation Echoes in Modern Translation Theory

Rawad Alhashmi


The paradox of the Tower of Babel and the underlying story behind the confusion of tongues are inextricably intertwined with various linguistic differences across the world. The tool of language, regardless of whether it is a gift of God, or a purely human artifact, or whatever one may choose to believe regarding its origins, is a tool that allows us to communicate with each other, thereby opening the door for dialogue with the ‘Other.’ As the myth of Babel began influencing several scholars in the twentieth century, linguistic theories inevitably elicited great interest among many acclaimed scholars, including Franz Kafka (1883–1924), Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) and Jacques Derrida (1930–2004). To that end, the fragmented mode of languages is a fundamental principle in their discourse on the confusion of tongues. In this article, I argue that Kafka’s writing, particularly the notion of the “piecemeal construction” in “The Great Wall of China,”1 has influenced Benjamin’s theory of translation and echoed Derrida’s respective view thereof.


Linguistic Fall, Pure Language, Architectural Language, Fragment, Art, Translation Contract

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