I recently had the chance to meet with Hellenic Supreme Court Judge, Argyris Stavrakis at a conference in Athens. Stavrakis is the author of “Modern Greek Legal Language and Terminology” (Νεοελληνική Νομική Γλώσσα και Ορολογία) currently in its third edition and available from P. N. Sakkoulas Press in Greek.
Stavrakis himself has said that he was inspired to write the book “because of the poor use of modern Greek in quite a few legal texts,” something that professional GR/EN legal translators will be quite familiar with.
The book is divided up into 3 sections.
Section I presents the historical shift from purist to demotic Greek and explains many of the problems that exist in Greek legal language as a result of this shift.
Section II outlines what ‘modern Greek’ means and what sort of language lawyers using ‘modern Greek’ should be writing. It explores numerous grammatical phenomena that are often the cause of problematic Greek legal writing.
Section III focuses on legal terminology. Stavrakis provides countless examples of the terminology problems that the shift from purist to demotic Greek has caused. He also raises the critical issue of how much purist Greek is really acceptable in Greek legal texts.
Stavrakis’ book is obviously very well-researched, with a wealth of footnotes citing linguists, grammarians and language experts to support his arguments.
Although intended for lawyers rather than legal translators, this book is definitely a useful resource for GR/EN legal translators.
For those working into English, the clear rules for proper drafting presented here help translators understand what the ‘correct’ Greek should be and therefore provide a more accurate translation.
For those working into Greek, the rules help translators produce grammatically correct, terminologically-consistent work.