How to Become a Recognized Translator: Refining a Social Habitus Into a Special Habitus



When arguing for a pivotal status of the translator’s habitus in translating activities, Simeoni (1998) suggests a distinction between a social habitus and a special habitus and asserts ‘becoming a translator is a matter of refining a social habitus into a special habitus’. Picking up his distinction, researchers in habitus-oriented translation studies utilize this useful dichotomy. This paper attempts to explore how to ‘become a translator’, i.e. the ‘matter of refining a social habitus into a special habitus’. With Dong Leshan, a famous contemporary translator in China, as an illustrative case, it elaborates on four important aspects of a translator’s social habitus: socialized trajectories, bilingual competence, work ethic and influence of patronage and three key aspects of a translator’s special habitus: translation strategies, professional reputation and working conditions. Through an analysis of the underlying relationships between those aspects, I demonstrate that the process of becoming a recognized translator can be adequately described as a result of refining the social habitus of a translator into his/her special habitus, thus presenting an empirical study of Simeoni’s viewpoint.


Translator; Social habitus; Special habitus; Dong Leshan

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