Language Barriers

Throughout our reading and discussion of The Familiar, one theme that has recurred is language that is simply lost in translation one way or another. Whether it be a switching of languages from Cantonese to English to Russian to Spanish and so forth. Perhaps the repeating series of dots, altered sizes and shapes of words, the blacking out of text, or even the differences in words in the page layout, they all represent a difference in the reading and perception of language. In a recent class discussion we talked about how the layers of knowledge or power of the characters from VEM to Narcons to the characters and how much of the novel is controlled by other layers but how do we know to what degree? This realistic loss of language and interpretation throughout the characters in the novel and the readers’ journey through the novel truly illustrate Danielewski’s display of our culture’s deficiency in understanding outside of our bubble. Also he gives the audience methods of reducing the language impediment by being able to go back and read each characters story in order of their own personal time length among other methods. The way I like to think of the Narcons chapter is almost like the abundance of footnotes from language lost in translation, this helps the reader to understand so many of the language mysteries throughout the book.

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