Tag: Greek legal language

In one of our previous posts we talked about the cultural inconsistencies in legal translation that often come up and specifically about inconsistencies in the realia. In this post, we are going to talk about the ways in which the legal translator can tackle these inconsistencies.

We gave an example using the term “fiduciary” and its Greek translation, but we concluded that there isn’t an equivalent term that has the exact same meaning and an identical content in the Greek legal system. What needs to be stressed here is the fact that the legal translator is able to reach this conclusion only if he is familiar with the law of both the legal systems involved: the legal system from which the source text comes and the legal system from which the target text comes. Familiarity with the first will enable the translator to have a clear grasp of the meaning, the content and the function of the concept, the term or the realia that he needs to translate. Familiarity with the second will enable him to look for the respective concept, term or realia in the target language.

As in the example that we used in our previous post, in the case where there isn’t an equivalent concept, term or realia, the translator should embrace the interpretative approach, aiming at the same time to ensure that the final recipient of the text will be able to understand it. The target text will be used in the context of a different legal system by people familiar only with their own legal system. The translator’s aim should be to clearly present the foreign legal system, without altering the structure and the legal effect of the text and of course without adding to or subtracting from the amount of information that the final recipient will draw from his translated text.

Hard? Yes. Impossible? No.

In any case, the legal translator should contact his client and advise him about the implications that arise from the inconsistencies of the two cultures involved, as well as about the ways in which he is planning to tackle those cultural inconsistencies in legal translation.

In our example I chose to translate the term “fiduciary” as “διαχειριστής αλλότριας περιουσίας” (administrator of another’s affairs), drawing my inspiration from the concept of “management of another’s affairs/voluntary agency” (διοίκηση αλλοτρίων) in Article 730 of the Hellenic Civil Code. The reason that the English term couldn’t have been translated as “διοικητής αλλοτρίων” (manager of another’s affairs/voluntary agent) is because there is a crucial difference between those two concepts: the agent mentioned in Article 730 of the Greek Civil Code manages the affairs of another person, but acts without authority, while the fiduciary acts under a mandate.

Just like any translator, the legal translator should also cultivate his multiculturalism, as this is a necessary professional tool. Since any form of cross-language communication is also cross-cultural communication (Vlachopoulos, p. 36) and every legal system is created within a specific culture, it is more than necessary for the legal translator to be aware of and be exposed to his own, as well as the foreign culture. This is the very heart of the role of the professional legal translator, as he is the person responsible for transferring the message and the content of the legal text from one culture to the other and finding solutions to the legal inconsistencies in his legal translation.

According to Vlachopoulos, who in turn refers to the research of Maddux & Galinsky in the field of business administration (Vlachopoulos, p. 37), simply knowing the language, as a sum of finite linguistic units and syntactical mechanisms, without being aware of the cultural elements reflected in the usage of a specific word or in the usage of a specific syntactical mechanism and without being conscious of the significance these elements bear in the foreign culture, dooms every effort of cross-cultural communication to failure. In other words, lack of awareness of the cultural parameters defeats creative understanding and leads to a linear and uncritical transfer of structures of the source language to the target language. It leads, above all, to an uncritical transfer of the thought structures of the source culture to the target culture. Vlachopoulos then he goes on to say that it is necessary for the translator to be familiar with the cultures with which he is working, so that, firstly, he can possess the knowledge and the experience that will support his understanding of the target culture and secondly, to be able to assess the acceptance criteria and in this way be able to converge to the highest possible extent with the communication standards that he is required to respect.

In the context of cross-cultural communication, therefore, the skilled legal translator should possess an awareness of the legal culture of both countries and keep himself constantly informed about new legislation, new case-law and the changes taking place in his own, as well as in the foreign legal system.

 

By Eva Angelopoulou

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

It would seem therefore that legal translation is, at best, an approximation. Indeed, many lawyers acknowledge that this is so and that equal meaning and exact translations between legal texts are illusions that cannot be achieved in practice. Thus, many claim that the task of the legal translator is ‘to make the foreign legal text accessible for recipients with a different (legal) background’. However, that claim only works with regard to texts that do not have force of law in the target language.

Karen McAuliffe: Translating Ambiguity,The Journal of Comparative Law, Vol 9(2)

The University of the Aegean’s Department of Information & Communication Systems Engineering has recently released a GR-EN / EN-GR glossary of e-Government terms.

To view it click here: http://icsdweb.aegean.gr/project/lexiko/

EU court ruling removes special treatment for specific more widely-spoken European languages

Last week (24/9/2015) the General Court of the European Union handed down its Judgment in Cases T-124/13 Italy v Commission and T-191/13 Spain v Commission.

This ruling annuls 3 competition notices to recruit personnel published by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) which required candidates for the EU jobs it was advertising to choose English, French or German as their second language and as the language of communication with EPSO.

Candidates needed to have 1 official EU language plus ‘satisfactory knowledge’ of a second language to be chosen by each candidate from English, French or German’. That second language would be used in communications with EPSO and in the selection procedure itself. EPSO asserted that these restrictions on the number of languages were justified to promote greater efficiency in day-to-day work, otherwise with an excessive range of EU languages effective functioning of the EU institutions would be impaired.

Italy and Spain, whose languages didn’t receive ‘preferential’ treatment complained to the General Court. They essentially argued that the EPSO notices discriminated against them, infringed the EU’s language regime contained in Regulation No 1 of 1958 and disregarded the principle of proportionality. Italy argued that European citizens have the right to address the EU Institutions using any one of the official languages, and that they have the right to receive answers from the Institutions in the same language. Spain added that in practice, that restriction on languages provided all candidates whose first language is one of the three languages mentioned above with a competitive advantage.

The General Court’s judgment has now annulled the 3 notices. The court argued that even if the Institutions can adopt details rules governing the language regime in their internal rules, the Institutions concerned by the contested notices did not use that option. Competition notices cannot be regarded as internal rules. The notices fell within the scope of Regulation No 1 and infringe it because they limit correspondence with EPSO to the three languages mentioned. That is sufficient in itself to justify the 3 notices being annulled, without there being any need to examine whether they give rise to unlawful discrimination on grounds of language.

Candidates are entitled to choose the language in which to draft the application form from any of the official languages and that correspondence from EPSO must also be written in the language chosen by candidates.

The General Court also said in relation to the use of a small number of languages for the competition itself constitutes discrimination on grounds of language. It is clear that such a requirement favours certain potential candidates since they can participate in the competition and be recruited as EU officials, whereas the others who do not have such knowledge are excluded.

According to the General Court, the claim that English, French or German remain the most widely used languages is a vague statement not supported by any specific evidence. In its view the obligation for candidates to choose English, French or German as a second language is not objectively justified or proportionate to the objective pursued by the Commission, namely to recruit officials and agents who are immediately operational.

… an interesting judgment that seems to confirm the existing EU principle that all official languages within the Union are of equal importance, no matter how few speakers they have.

The judgment is not yet available in Greek or English.

 

 

Source: http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2015-09/cp150107en.pdf

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..

Below is an interesting article written by Mata Salogianni, examining some aspects of legal translation in the Greek-English combination.Continue Reading..

LEGAL TERMINOLOGY AND ETHICAL DILEMMAS by Maria Botti

Legal terms, most of the time, do not represent objects with a physical aspect, but legal concepts which lawyers in different times and places have named differently. Should legal terminology be influenced by time and place? Which is the ‘correct’ choice of the word, when we translate from Greek into Anglo-Saxon legal language? When is it not unethical to approach the target-language more and leave our own behind? The answer does not only depend upon the most important person of the reader, but also on the approach we take concerning how our own system is presented.

Click here for the full article in Greek: http://www.eleto.gr/download/Conferences/4th%20Conference/4th_24-02-KanellopoulouBotti.pdf


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