The Invention of the Idiom: The Event of the Untranslatable

Marc Crépon (Lead / Corresponding author), Elizabeth Geary Keohane (Translator), Oisin Keohane (Translator)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    This article considers the notion of an event, of something happening to language, through a reading of Jacques Derrida's Monolingualism of the Other. In particular, the issues of language, translation and the untranslatable are linked to the three forms of madness that Derrida distinguishes. The paper, in turn, contends that there are only target languages, or again, that all languages are in fact target languages, languages-to-come, and that this experience (épreuve) of language is the only test worthy of the untranslatable. The madness of language is thus associated with the singularity of not only every language and every speaker, but also with the non-programmable character of language. The literature of Kafka and Celan, among others, is henceforth invoked as exemplary, and examined as both an intra-lingual and inter-lingual event. The overall aim is to disrupt the Globish of global communication and the nationalism of linguistic proprietorship.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)189-203
    Number of pages15
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


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