An Investigation of Translator Cyril Birch’s Habitus in Translating Mistress and Maid (Jiaohongji)

Chunli YU


As a kind of social practice, translation is greatly influenced by various social elements. Habitus is one of the key elements to analyze a translator’s translation activities, which could be reflected through one’s preference on works in the source language, translation principles, and selection of translation strategies. This study investigated translator Cyril Birch’s habitus based on Pierre Bourdieu theory of social practice and Daniel Simeoni’ s concept on translator’s habitus by analyzing one of his representative translated works--Mistress and Maid (Jiaohongji). The methods employed by this study involve case study, literature analysis, and textual analysis. The findings revealed that Cyril Birch owns a relatively fixed habitus on translating Chinese operas. The habitus of Cyril Birch was based on his ardent love of Chinese literature works, great familiarization and accumulation of Chinese culture. His translation principles were embodied in his pursuit of rhythm equivalence, preference on using annotations to interpret allusions, metaphors etc. This study could deepen the understanding of socio-translatology in the field of translation studies and help explain the translation activities in both macro and micro facets. Additionally, by analyzing this successful translator, the study will offer some references for the improvement of translators’ professional qualities.


Cyril Birch; Mistress and Maid; Habitus; Socio-translatology

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