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Legal translation and comparison

I start my blog with a brief reflection on legal translation and comparative law.

Is it ‘daring’ to say that legal translation can be considered as a comparative law operation? In my opinion, it is an objective observation.

Legal translation constantly implies an activity of legal comparison and requires the translator to make conscious choices from time to time, starting from the so-called ‘direct reception’, i.e. the decision to keep the term or expression in the source language, possibly accompanied by an explanatory note, passing through the search for functional equivalence or the use of a periphrasis, up to the creation of a neologism (a residual choice, however, because it is ‘risky’), always taking care to avoid ‘false’ equivalences in the target language. And this happens even if the legal systems concerned, i.e. the one of which the source text is an expression and the one in which the target text is to be produced, share the same legal tradition, and in areas of law where there seems to be greater convergence between the concepts and institutions referred to in the two languages.

It is clear, therefore, that a simple dictionary, albeit a specialised one, is not sufficient to obtain an adequate and acceptable legal translation; it also requires precise research and in-depth study, in addition to which there is an indispensable knowledge of the linguistic and textual conventions of the target text. In my opinion, these are competences of which the translator of legal texts, first of all, and then the client of the translation, must be aware.

Bibliography:

De Groot, Gerard-René, “Das Übersetzen juristischer Terminologie”, in Gerard-René De Groot, e Reiner Schulze (a cura di), Recht und Übersetzen, Baden, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 1999.
Longinotti, Daniela, “Problemi specifici della traduzione giuridica: traduzione di sentenze dal tedesco e dall’inglese”, Quaderni del Dipartimento, rivista del Dipartimento di Scienze della Comunicazione linguistica e culturale dell’Università di Genova, 2009.
Sacco, Rodolfo, Trattato di diritto comparato. Introduzione al diritto comparato, Torino, UTET, 1992.
Scarpa, Federica, e Alison Riley, “La fisionomia della sentenza in Inghilterra e in Italia: un’analisi orientata alla traduzione”, in Leandro Schena, e Rita D. Snel Trampus (a cura di), Traduttori e giuristi a confronto. Interpretazione traducente e comparazione del discorso giuridico, Bologna, CLUEB, vol. I, 2000.
Scarpa, Federica, “Un esempio di traduzione giuridica dall’inglese all’italiano: il contratto di compravendita immobiliare”, in Leandro Schena (a cura di), La lingua del diritto. Difficoltà traduttive. Applicazioni didattiche, Atti del Convegno Internazionale (Milano, Università Commerciale “Luigi Bocconi”, 5-6 ottobre 1995), Roma, CISU, 1997.
Stolze, Radegundis, “Expertenwissen des juristischen Fachübersetzers”, in Peter Sandrini (a cura di), Übersetzen von Rechtstexten. Fachkommunikation im Spannungsfeld zwischen Rechtsordnung und Sprache, Tübingen, Narr., 1999.
Viezzi, Maurizio, “Introduzione alle problematiche della traduzione giuridica con particolare riferimento alla traduzione di testi in lingua inglese”, in Federica Scarpa, e Gabriella Di Mauro (a cura di), Traduzione, Società e Cultura 5 (1994), Università degli Studi di Trieste, LINT.

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