Category: Greek language

A legal text always reflects a specific national legal system, in the sense that it is based on the laws, rules and regulations of that legal system. Any national legal system is, in turn, culture-based, since it is created in accordance with the needs of a specific culture and aims to ensure harmonious co-existence between the members of that culture. In this sense, law is an integral component of culture. Since no two cultures are identical, no national legal system can be identical to another, even if both of them belong to the same legal family. The logical consequence of this simple fact, and one that is of course anticipated by professional legal translators, is that difficulties and challenges are bound to come up while transferring a legal text’s message from one national legal system to another, due to the differences and non-equivalences between the respective legal systems. These differences and inconsistencies are, of course, also reflected in the legal language, which is the means of expressing the national law.

The differences therefore between the source culture and the target culture create inconsistencies in legal texts. There are different kinds of inconsistencies, but in this post we are going to talk about what is perhaps the most common kind of inconsistency that can be found in legal texts, one that arises due to the non-existence of a culture’s realia (institutions, concepts and systems) in another culture. This type of inconsistency is called factual inconsistency. I wonder if there is a professional legal translator who hasn’t encountered terms, phrases or concepts in legal texts that refer to realia that exist in the source culture, while no equivalent realia exist in the target culture. An example of a factual inconsistency that I recently encountered while translating an English legal text into Greek is the term “fiduciary”. This general term, that can be found in Common Law systems, refers to the person that somebody entrusted with the management of their affairs. The individual who acts as fiduciary is someone who undertakes to act for the benefit of and on behalf of the person who trusted them in relation to a particular affair. In bilingual English to Greek legal dictionaries the term fiduciary is usually translated as θεματοφύλακας (thematofylakas). The term θεματοφύλακας (thematofylakas) however refers to the contract of deposit under Article 822 of the Greek Civil Code, according to which “the depositary takes delivery from another person of a moveable thing with a view to keeping it subject to the undertaking of restitution upon demand”. It doesn’t take long for a professional legal translator, who is familiar with the Greek law of obligations, to realise not only that the term fiduciary cannot be translated as θεματοφύλακας (thematofylakas) in Greek, since a fiduciary relationship does not include only guarding a moveable thing, but also that there isn’t really an equivalent term or concept in the Greek legal system with exactly the same meaning and an identical content.

The next question that logically comes up is how should a legal translator tackle these inconsistencies?

We will try and give an answer to this question in a future post. In the meantime, you can read more about inconsistencies in legal texts and the legal translator’s approach in this article by Stefanos Vlachopoulos  in Greek or in this one  by Radegundis Stolze in English.

 

by Eva Angelopoulou

Translating the workings of a civil law system into English (common law) terminology can be extremely difficult, as all those who have ever attempted it will know. The reason for the complexity is simple; translating from one system to another system is far from straightforward. When, for example a Dutch lawyer has to explain his legal system to a common law lawyer, it is not simply a matter of replacing Dutch words with English words. The Dutch system is not a carbon copy of the English system, which means that there will not always be equivalent English terminology at hand for translation purposes. In order to use English legal terminology correctly and effectively, the practitioner must not only be familiar with his own legal system, but also have a basic grasp of the structure of the common law system.

Source: Helen Gubby, English legal terminology: Legal concepts in language (Boom Juridische Studieboeken)

by Eva Angelopoulou

Continuities or discontinuities in Greek legal language 1974-2014

In the field of Greek-English legal translation, the legal translator often has to deal with older, purist Greek texts. In legal translation, the translator must be keenly aware of the shift from purist to demotic Greek.Continue Reading..

The last two posts have raised the issue of Ottoman land-holdings in Greece and the relevant Greek legal terminology involved which GR-EN legal translators may not be aware about because of the Turkish roots of the words.
 

Continue Reading..

In yesterday’s post, the article referred to set out some thoughts about the nature of legal translation in the Greek-English combination and some of the difficulties translators face. One of the issues raised was that other languages have often influenced English legal language.

The same is true of Greek legal language to a certain extent.

Continue Reading..

The Greek language is truly a gift to the development of European civilization, and its culture has influenced many people extending beyond the borders of Europe. Although many educated Europeans carried with them the love for the ancient Greek language and culture upon settling in the New World, not much was known about the Greek culture as a whole.

It wasn’t until the early 20th century that Greeks established themselves in the diaspora, creating church communities, schools, clubs, and associations, which served as a benchmark of locality, as well as a tool for the spreading of Hellenism.Continue Reading..

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