Priests, princes and pariahs: Constructing the professional field of translation

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In translation, the power to control texts and to attribute meaning to them is either decreed in an authoritarian manner or agreed upon democratically. This depends upon the hierarchical structure of the society, and especially on the extent to which a ruling elite attempts and is able to maintain control over crosscultural communication. Against this background, this paper aims at investigating the various reasons for the discrepancy between the rather marginal status of the translator, on the one hand, and his or her crucial role in the construction of meaning in transcultural exchange, on the other. It will be shown that to view translation as a social practice helps to identify the processes of negotiation based on positions of power. We will highlight these processes as being both consolidated locally due to the shrinking importance of time and space in a globalised society, and in a fuzzy network of meanings that transcend national cultural boundaries.


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