Cross-cultural Translatability : Challenges and Prospects

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-378
Journal / PublicationEuropean Review
Issue number3
Online published2 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


In our quest of a new paradigm for cultural or cross-cultural understanding, we must first take a look at the very concept of a paradigm, as Thomas Kuhn expounded in his celebrated book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and the related concepts of incommensurability and untranslatability. Kuhn's concepts have a significant influence on social sciences and the humanities, and they put an overemphasis on the difference and the impossibility of communication among different groups and cultures. Such a tendency has led to the fragmentization of the social fabric and the resurgence of a most tenacious tribalism. This essay launches a critique of such concepts and argues for the possibility and validity of cross-cultural understanding, and proposes world literature as an opportunity to embrace cross-cultural translatability as the first step towards a new paradigm in the study of different cultures in our globalized world today.

Research Area(s)

  • Thomas Kuhn, incommensurability, untranslatability, cross-cultural understanding