Walter Benjamin: Translation and the “Kinship of Languages”


  • Amir Ali Nojoumian


This article is a study of the ideas of translation and the original text in the writings of Walter Benjamin in order to explicate the curious relation of the Ur-text (original) to the transferred text (translation) and ask the following question: Does translation help towards developing the “kinship of languages”, or does it instead “kill” the original and substitute it with a decayed text? Benjamin, in his 1923 essay “The Task of the Translator”, argues that the translator’s task can be even more significant than the role of the writer of the original text. He believes that the translator, through the decayed barriers of his own language, releases “the pure language”. The translator, in his view, liberates the language imprisoned in a work in his re-creation of that work. Therefore, I would argue that Benjamin overturns the hierarchy and views the original text, as well as the translated text, as overcoming the “decayed barriers” of the respective languages as a means of both survival and revival. As Benjamin says, “[i]n translation the original rises into a higher and purer linguistic air, as it were”.



How to Cite

Nojoumian, A. A. (2006). Walter Benjamin: Translation and the “Kinship of Languages”. Translation Studies Quarterly, 3(12). Retrieved from



Scientific Research Paper