JurTrans Blog

On  Thursday, 21 September, the University of Birmingham will host a seminar on ” Law, translation and migration: an enlightening relationship”. The event is free but requires pre-registration. The announcement about the event and the full programme are reproduced below:

“Challenges of legal translation have existed for a long time in international law and international relations. However, the intense process of globalization since the latter half of the 20th century has led to a rapid increase of international treaties and agreements, regional governance, international organizations, NGOs and courts as well as growing reliance on international arbitration.

Much of this globalized legal work is performed through translation. In spite of its long history and recent proliferation, legal translation remains underexplored, particularly from a socio-legal perspective. In fact, research on the intersection of law and translation has tended to concentrate on a rather limited agenda with broader issues being neglected. Therefore, migration is an appropriate and innovative lens to pursue this broader investigation and to tackle the following key issues: what are the various effects of globalisation on this intersection? What is the impact of legal translation on the acceptance of concepts and ideas into other (legal) cultures? What are the effects of the ‘translated’ word on the perception of the very phenomena it portrays?

This seminar will not only further our understanding of the intersection of law and translation, but it will advance knowledge and analysis on migration, an issue central to our times. By addressing the intersection of law and translation in this way, it will  reveal novel questions, effects or links to migration, thus advancing the intellectual agenda of the socio-legal community.”

Programme

Morning

Workshop 1 – Language and migration – A complex relationship

Professor Ann-Marie Fortier – University of Lancaster (Department of sociology):
‘On (not) speaking English: colonial legacies in language requirements for British citizenship’ 

Professor Eleanor Spaventa – University of Durham (School of Law):
“Language and the internal market”

Professor François Grin – Université de Genève (Faculty of translation and interpreting)
“Language, mobility and inclusion in the EU: the MIME project”

Workshop 2 – Portrayal of the nexus translation and migration

Professor Lucja Biel – University of Warsaw (Faculty of applied linguistics):
‘Translation and the law: A case study of a corpus of (legal) translation on migration’ 

Professor Loredana Polezzi – University of Cardiff (School of Modern Languages):
‘The portrayal in contemporary literary texts of the relationship between migration, translation and the law”

Afternoon:

Workshop 3 – ‘Translating migration’ in practice

Professor Angela Creese & Professor Adrian Blackledge – University of Birmingham (School of Education):
‘Translation in everyday practice”

Dr Frances Rock – University of Cardiff (School of English, communication and philosophy)
“Just because she’s a solicitor that doesn’t make her any better than you”: Law, translation and migration in confronting disadvantage through enlightened relationships in legal advice”

Dr Elpida Loupaki – Aristotle University of Thessalonika (Department of French studies and literature):
‘Translating migration – beyond terminology’

Piotr Wegorowski – University of Cardiff (School of English, communication and philosophy)
“Translating institutional procedures: the case of community policing”

 

source: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/law/events/2017/law-translation-migration.aspx

Billis, Emmanouil (ed.): The Greek Penal Code. English translation by Vasiliki Chalkiadaki and Emmanouil Billis. Introduction by Emmanouil Billis. Berlin, Duncker & Humblot 2017, 256 p. [ISBN 978-3-86113-794-8 (Max-Planck-Institut), ISBN 978-3-428-15230-8 (Duncker & Humblot)].

The Greek Penal Code

The esteemed Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, in partnership with the German publisher Duncker & Humblot, has recently published a new English translation of the Greek Penal Code by Emmanouil Billis. Mr. Billis is a researcher on criminal law and procedure, comparative criminal law and the law of evidence and teaches at several prestigious law schools around Europe.

This new work “includes a systematic introduction to the basic characteristics and fundamental principles of criminal law and the Penal Code of Greece. As such, it is an indispensable resource for legal professionals, comparatists, and international scholars interested in the Greek criminal justice system”.

I would also add ‘legal translators’ to that list. As I pointed out in a recent blogpost, an essential tool for any professional legal translator is a translation of the key codes into his/her working languages. This can solve many terminological issues and promote consistency, while also aiding comprehension by the target audience.

The new book is the result of a project entitled  “Translation of the Greek Penal Code into English”, which was run at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law. The contents of the book can be viewed here.

Interestingly, this is not the first time that the Greek Penal Code has been translated into English. The Code was previously translated in 1973 by N. Lolis, prefaced by an introduction to Greek criminal law by Giorgios Mangakis, and published as part of the American Series of Foreign Penal Codes. Times move on though. As the publisher’s blurb for the new book by Billis points out, criminal law is an area that evolves and develops over time and, “the individual definitions of criminal offences, [have] been widely amended several times. Efforts have always been made to adapt the law to modern socio-ethical, political, economic, and international developments”.  So the new translation is a welcome addition to the tools at the legal translator’s disposal.

 

 

Tools of the legal translator’s trade, a new blog by me published today on the IALS Legal Translation hub looking at the various tools legal translators use in their profession.  Click here to read more:

Tools of the legal translator’s trade

A FEW THOUGHTS ON QUALITY IN LEGAL TRANSLATION

Poor or inadequate legal translations can have dire consequences on the legal, financial and personal relations of individuals, companies and legal entities, lead to doubts regarding the rights and obligations of the parties and can often result in great financial losses. The expectations of quality in this field are high, certainly higher than in other translation fields, for the sake of legal certainty and for the avoidance of these adverse consequences.Continue Reading..

Straight off the press, a great new article on “What exactly is legal translation?” by Dr. Juliette Scott has just been published on the IALS/IMLR Legal Translation Hub looking at “what it involves, where it happens, why professionals are needed, how to get into the profession, and what the future holds”.

Click here to read the article.

 

 

Following on from the previous post about upcoming conferences relevant to legal translation, language and law, a few more conferences on the topic have been drawn to my attention by colleagues. Many thanks!

So adding these 2, that makes a total of 7 more conferences on legal translation this year.Continue Reading..

Hard on the heels of the very interesting event “Legal translation to the next level” held on 4 February here in London come a series of other events and conferences all relating to the topic.  The tagline for the London conference was that legal translators should ‘roar to the world’ about their existence.  Another 5 conferences happening this year will certainly help get the message out there about what legal translators do and the important role they play. So here’s a quick round-up of forthcoming legal translation events:Continue Reading..

Thankfully more and more legal translation events are being organised, as yesterday’s post pointed out.

In fact next week there are two legal translation events coming up which look to be interesting:

What exactly is legal translation?

Next week (8/12/2016) IALS/SOAS are jointly hosting a seminar entitled ‘What exactly is legal translation?’ presented by Dr. Juliette Scott of wordstodeeds fame and a key advocate of the importance of professionalising legal translation and improving quality in the sector. The seminar will be  looking at “what [legal translation] is, where it happens and the risks involved”.

This legal translation event will take place in central London and admission is free, though you do need to book in advance.

5th annual Lawyer-Linguists virtual event

Next Thursday (8/12) also happens to be the date of the 5th annual Lawyer-Linguists virtual event, an online legal translation event aimed at those utilising their professional qualifications in law and translation to provide legal translation and interpreting services. According to the event’s website some of the topics to be discussed are:

  • Pro Bono Opportunities for Lawyer-Linguists
  • Working as a Lawyer-Linguist for the European Court of Justice (Freelancers and In-House)
  • The Lawyer-Linguist as CEO
  • Maintaining a Law Practice as a Lawyer-Linguist
  • The Lawyer-Linguist as Interpreter
  • Foreign Language Document Review: The State of the Industry
  • Training for Lawyer-Linguists

Registration for the event is free.

Words to Deeds Conference 2017: Legal translation to the next level

February 2017 also sees the Words to Deeds Conference 2017: Legal translation to the next level, which will be hosted in central London.

As a complement to the conference itself, there will also be a series of pre- and post-conference events by leading practitioners and academics in the field of legal translation, covering corpus linguistics and its relationship to legal translation, bijuralism and bilingual drafting, and legal translation of EU texts. More information about this conference and the side events can be found on the Words to Deeds blog and conference website.

 

The role of legal translators, and of legal translation as an activity, is attracting increasing attention, with a host of conferences having been organised on the subject or closely related topics in recent years.

I’ve recently returned from a very interesting and productive conference in Seville entitled, “From Legal Translation to Jurilinguistics: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Language and Law” held at the Universidad Pablo   de Olavide in late October.

The recent conference in Seville emphasised the important role legal translators have to play

The recent conference in Seville emphasised the important role legal translators have to play

Some of the key themes that emerged at the conference for me were:

  • The vital communicative role that legal translators have to play

Prof. Jan Engberg, an expert in knowledge communication, stressed that legal translation is all about the translator being able to communicate specialised knowledge so that people (typically but not always lawyers) in one knowledge community can understand what is being said by people in another knowledge community. Legal translators mediate and broker the transfer of that knowledge and are interested in solving the linguistic problems that emerge in conveying knowledge. Their primary goal should be to create a text in the target situation that can be read in the right way by its audience. He stressed the importance of comparative law in this regard; which brings us to the next major theme at the conference.

  • The importance of comparative law skills for legal translators

Another broad theme at the conference was the importance of comparative law, and the importance of a transystemic approach to the study of law to enable legal translation to occur more easily because of greater understanding on the part of legal translators of what the concepts involved mean in, and across, legal systems; a topic addressed by Prof. Emerich in her keynote address.

  • How important it is for legal translators to correctly position themselves in the market

Building on the vital communicative role legal translators play, Juliette Scott, emphasised in her presentation the importance of legal translators correctly positioning themselves in the market, and stressed how important it is for legal translators to choose the correct terms when referring to themselves, primarily because of the impact this has on how the market perceives them as professionals.

  • The growing importance of corpuses for identifying language patterns and for aiding consistency and improving quality in legal translation

In her keynote speech Prof. L. Biel examined the historical development of corpuses in translation and discussed the importance of corpuses so far as a research tool. Since legal language is highly patterned and formulaic, corpuses are proving useful in identifying these patterns; though some translation studies have indicated that despite such high formulaicity, translators often have a tendency to use their own phrases rather than the patterns that would typically be used in corresponding target language texts. Somehow “translation as a process” is interfering. It is to be hoped that corpuses can be operationalised to ensure greater consistency across languages to improve translation quality. Gianluca Pontrandolfo also presented interesting corpus-based research on judicial phraseology, and several other speakers provided practical examples of how corpuses can promote better quality legal translations.

  • The need for better quality legal dictionaries

On a related point, several speakers analysed the difficulties one often encounters with legal dictionaries and presented projects aimed at creating better quality legal dictionaries or glossaries, presenting some interesting methodologies such as the ‘least bad possible equivalents’ for terms when two legal systems do not have the same concepts (Frison & Gavrilova) or a participative, interactive glossary-development process (Fiola).

  • The role of the EU’s directive on translation and interpreting in criminal settings

Several other papers addressed the progress made so far in adapting the law in various EU countries to the requirements of the recent directive on translation and interpreting in criminal settings, revealing that transposition has not always been a smooth process.

 

 

Legal dictionaries, legal lexicography and legal translation

Over the years academics in the field of legal translation such as Marta Chroma and Coen Van Laer have been highly vocal about the need for good quality legal dictionaries to assist legal translators in their task. Of course, legal dictionaries can’t provide all the answers but are still an essential tool.

I’ve written extensively about the quality of Greek-English legal dictionaries in the past, indicating that the quality of these essential tools for getting legal translations done is affected by a great many factors. Sadly, existing dictionaries out there tend to score very poorly when judged by their fitness for purpose. Most are mere word lists and lack the sort of information that legal translators need to navigate the difficult seas from source to target language, culture and legal system. That is especially true for the Greek-English language combination.

Academic articles are regularly published on legal lexicography but a relatively new, comprehensive book on the subject is a welcome addition. Prof. Łucja Biel, University of Warsaw, recently published a review of Legal Lexicography. A Comparative Perspective. Law, Language and Communication which was published in 2014 by Ashgate Press and edited by Máirtín Mac Aodha. She said, “Definitely, it is a must-read for legal translation and legal language researchers”. With that in mind, I’ve ordered a copy.

Legal lexicography, legal dictionaries and legal translation

Legal Lexicography. A Comparative Perspective. Law, Language and Communication

Overview of the book

Until the book arrives, let’s take a quick look at Prof. Biel’s review and see what her overview can tell us about state of play.

Firstly, legal lexicography is a complicated field with many aspects, encompassing terminology and translation. It also covers both mono- and bi-lingual dictionaries, as well as printed and online versions of these language resources. It’s a field where technology is important and thankfully technology is starting to play an ever increasing role. Two chapters of the book (by Sandrini and Nielsen) look at the importance of shifting towards digital solutions and how this could improve the quality of legal dictionaries. Prof. Biel concurs, arguing that, “Digital technology makes it possible to better structure masses of data and to retrieve information adapted to user needs (communicative and cognitive functions) as regards its content and quantity”. In my older review of GR-EN legal dictionaries, the dictionary which was also available in electronic format also scored highest.

Secondly, the way in which a legal dictionary is prepared, decisions about the sort of dictionary it will be, and questions of the  intended audience (lawyers? judges? translators? the public?) all affect the quality of the final dictionary and determine how the dictionary should be judged and its fitness for purpose.

Thirdly, a point I’ve raised before about the need for GR-EN legal dictionaries to be more descriptive is also raised by Coen Van Laer in his chapter in the book. He argues that bilingual legal dictionaries for translators could be improved by including an optimal amount of encyclopaedic information. Van Laer argues that dictionaries should assess the degree of equivalence between concepts in the source and target language; to do that, he stresses, entries should include source and target legislative definitions to allow for their comparison, especially for core and incongruous concepts. Prof. Biel makes the following comments on this point, “Indisputably, this solution would be of valuable help to translators; however, I have doubts as to its feasibility due to the following constraints: legal systems differ in their reliance on legislative definitions; there are not that many terms that have legislative definitions; legislative definitions of a term may differ across statutes and branches of law and, finally, in the case of languages which are used in various jurisdictions, how many definitions do we place in an entry …? It should be admitted though that this solution offers an ideal to strive towards.”

To sum up, the book appears to offer an extensive overview of the field of legal lexicography, and its importance in legal translation. It will certainly make for interesting reading when it arrives.


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