Cautionary tale about legal translation

The latest issue of the Hong Kong Law Journal includes some interesting comments from Justice Susan Kwan of the High Court of Hong Kong on legal translation and the development of the common law in the Chinese language in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Justice Kwan writes:

It can be said that the Chinese version of the Laws of Hong Kong is quite unreadable. … Each time I look up the Chinese version of a legislation, I would invariably read its English version as well to help me understand the meaning of the Chinese version and to reduce the chance of making mistakes. One can imagine the difficulty faced by those who can only read the Chinese version of the Laws of Hong Kong.

Statute law is just part of the laws in Hong Kong. The majority of the cases that constitute the common law are only written in English. In this important domain, those who have no legal knowledge or are not conversant in English would find their hands tied.

The Dilemma of Conducting Civil Litigation in Chinese – Conversant Either in Chinese or the Law But Not in Both.
Susan Kwan
41 Hong Kong Law Journal 325-326 (2011)

New Book – Researching Language and the Law: Textual Features and Translation Issues

Davide Simone Giannoni and Celina Frade’s new book “Researching Language and the Law: contains the following chapters that will be of interest to people studying legal translation and interpretation.

Researching Language and the Law: Textual Features and Translation Issues

Davide Simone Giannoni and Celina Frade

Bern: Perter Lang, 2010

Selected Book Chapters:

English Legal Discourse and the French Continuum

Susan Kermas

“What I argue in this chapter is that the unique language contact situation within the EU has triggered another phase of French influence. My examination of English and French legal documents in the Eur-Lex archive … will demonstate not only that many words have been influenced by French, but, more importantly, that efforts to harmonise legal language within the EU may also be creating a further rift between British and American legal discourse and subsequently, ordinary language.”

Axiological Analysis of Entries in a Spanish Law Dictionary and their English Equivalents

Angel M.  Felices Lago

 

Legal Translation and Interpreting in the UK Today

Francisco Vigier

The UK has two main translator and interpeter organizations, the Institute of Translation and Interpreting  and the Charted Institute of Linguists, which are recognised by the government and committed to promote quality in translation and interpreting services. Nonetheless, a translator or interpreter willing to practise in Britain is not bound to belong to any of them. . .”

 

New blog: Translation and Interpretation in America

Translation and Interpretation in America

Professor Gladys Matthews

http://translationandinterpretationinamerica.blogspot.com/

Prof. Matthews has been studying legal translation and interpretation for many years. Her blog will be a welcome addition for those looking for insights into language and law.

From the blog description:

I started this blog today, although it is something I have been thinking about and planning for a long time.  I will be making frequent posts about many different topics in translation and interpretation, so I hope you will check back often. My first posts will be on my current research interests related to the teaching of legal translation and interpretation.