Regarding Symbolic Capital: Poetry Translators from Modern Greek into English
The research object of this study is the symbolic capital of poetry translators and how it shapes and is being shaped by the current practices and self-descriptions of translators of Modern Greek poetry into English. A number of case studies indicate that people who translate poetry come from a variety of backgrounds, including those of a poet and an academic, which often do not include any formal translation training (Hofstadter 1997; Waldinger 2003; Bullock 2011; Isaxanli 2014). It also appears to be common that translators of poetry have a number of complementary roles, with that of ‘poetry translator’ not always central. The study draws on data consisting of Modern Greek into English poetry translators’ responses to a survey, of paratexts created by Modern Greek into English translators and of ten interviews. Cultural and educational capitals are examined in their institutionalized, objectified and embodied form as bearers of symbolic capital. Three overlapping categories are explored: the translators’ connection to poetry and the source culture, translator education and translator self-description. The translators’ “extratextual visibility” (Koskinen 2000 as cited in Chesterman 2018: 446) is also analyzed as it forms part of the translators’ embodied cultural and symbolic capital. This empirical exploration offers insights into the variety of attitudes and approaches to poetry translation; the emerging patterns map out profiles of a group of contemporary poetry translators, investigate the realities of the craft and re-position poetry translation practitioners with respect to other translation professionals.
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