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The German Society for Forensic Linguistics (GSFL) has just announced an event indirectly relevant to legal translation which explores issues of language, evidence, multilingualism and the law, and court interpreting.
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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

Terminology Management for legal translators

Terminology management is the process of documenting terms in an organized and systematic way. Given that up to 40% of translation time can be spent on terminology research, documented terminology is of vital importance to translators since it helps greatly reduce the time spent to re-research each term. Terminology management files, like glossaries, are useful not only to linguists, but to clients as well, who can re-use them for similar future projects. Being able to leverage terminology means that professional legal translators ensure consistency and high-quality content in their legal translations.

For those interested in terminology management there are two summer schools that provide respective training.

To begin with, the International Terminology Summer School (TSS) is a one-week, practice-oriented training course about the methods and principles of terminology management, organized and lectured by some of the most renowned and respected trainers and experts in the field of terminology. This year it is going to take place in Vienna, Austria from the 11th until the 15th of July 2016.

This summer school is designed for translators, terminology professionals, students and researchers who are looking for an introduction to terminology management in theory and practice. No specific background or knowledge level is required to participate.

On 13th July one of the topics is dedicated to legal translation and terminology.

The provisional programme is as follows:


  • What is terminology?
  • Why terminology management?
  • How terminology work is embedded in my organisation and work environment?


  • Data Modelling: Data Categories for Terminology Management
  • Terminology Tools – Terminology Management, Extraction and Control
  • Terminology Exchange
  • Creating a Terminology Database
  • Exploring TBX


  • How to present the business case for terminology
  • Terminology Policies and Terminology Planning
  • How to calculate and argue costs & return on investments for terminology
  • Legal translation and Terminology


  • Copyright Issues for Terminology Management
  • Standards for Terminology Work: Principles, Definitions and Relations
  • Terminology Work in ISO TC 37



  • Participants’ Terminology Projects, Q & A Workshop
  • Wrap-up, Final Discussion, TSS Certificates and Closing

You can find more information about fees, discounts and registration here: http://www.termnet.org/english/events/tss_2016/index.php

Similarly, the Faculty of Arts of the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) is organising the 1st International Translation Technology Summer School in Antwerp, Belgium from the 29th of August till the 2nd of September 2016.

This Summer School is not focused on terminology management only, but also covers other interesting topics regarding translation and localization issues and tools.

According to the website, the overall draft programme is as follows:

Day 1

  • The translation process and translation technologies
  • Parallel workshops on multilingual workflow management, file formats and file conversion

Day 2

  • Computer-assisted translation tools (CAT): commercial vs. open-source, desktop vs. cloud
  • Parallel workshops on different translation memory tools and translation management systems.

 Day 3

  • Workshop on Machine Translation and Post-Editing
  • CAT-tools and dictation
  • Terminology management and corpus-analysis tools

 Day 4

  • Technical communication
  • Parallel workshops on website and software localization

 Day 5

  • Parallel workshops on Quality in Translation
  • How to evaluate translation technologies

This is also a one-week event, during which experienced trainers and experts from both the academic and the commercial world will give presentations, hands-on workshops, and use case scenarios. The keynote speakers are yet to be announced.

This summer school is designed for language professionals who are looking for a practice-oriented and state-of-the-art introduction to translation and localization issues and tools. It would also be very useful for legal translators, or for people looking to improve their overall translation skills, including their legal translation skills.

You can find more information about fees, discounts and registration here: https://www.arts.kuleuven.be/conference/transtech-summerschool/registration-ttsummerschool

The language of instruction and discussion for both these events is English.


By Eva Angelopoulou

Late announcement:

The University of Geneva is hosting a talk tomorrow on  “The complexities of legal translation in the drafting of bilateral treaties between Italy and English-speaking countries”. The Speaker is Dr Rocco LOIACONO (The University of Western Australia/Curtin University). The talk is at 12:00 hours in Room 6077 of the University’s Uni Mail building in Geneva tomorrow Wednesday 2 March.

This is part of the Transius Talks Series which addresses various aspects of legal translation.


Source: Transius network


By Eva Angelopoulou


Eleventh Conference on Legal Translation, Court Interpreting and Comparative Legilinguistics (Legal Linguistics) / The 17th International Roundtable for the Semiotics of Law


The Institute of Linguistics at Adam Mickiewicz University will hold an international conference devoted to language and the law. The aim is to provide a forum for discussion in those scientific fields where linguistic and legal interests converge, and to facilitate integration between linguists, computer scientists and lawyers from all around the world. The conference will be held over 3 days, from 24th to 26th June (Friday-Sunday) 2016 in Poznan, Poland. Papers are invited on the following topics:


  1. (comparative) forensic linguistics
  2. forensic phonetics
  • forensic authorship attribution
  1. forensic stylistic
  2. linguists as expert witnesses
  3. linguistic features of forgeries and counterfeits of public documents


  1. legal translation;
  2. court interpreting;
  • teaching legal translation and court interpreting
  1. certified translators and interpreters in legal proceedings
  2. mistranslation and misinterpreting in legal context


  1. legal linguistics
  2. history of legal language
  • legal terminology
  1. legal genres
  2. EU legal language
  3. analysis of legal discourse
  • structure and semantics of statutes and other legal instruments;
  • development of legal languages
  1. legal and linguistic interpretation of texts formulated in legal language
  2. teaching legal language
  3. speech style in the courtroom
  • comprehensibility of legal instruments
  • Plain Language Campaigns
  • linguistic aspects of cross-examination
  1. technicality in legal language


  1. history of legal systems
  2. comparative study of legal systems
  • common law versus civil law countries


  1. language rights
  2. linguistic minorities and linguistic human rights
  • language and disadvantage before the law



Source: http://www.lingualegis.amu.edu.pl/?main_data=legi2016&lang=en

Sixth International Conference on Law, Language and Discourse

Haifa, Israel, 1-4 August 2016


Theme: The development of legal language and its interpretation; linguistic and pragmatic aspects of the evolution of the synchronic understanding


The conference addresses issues that concern the current development of theory and method in all the intersections of language with different aspects of law and legal discourse from various legal traditions, languages, and nations.

The topics include, but are not limited to:

Legal language and discourse:
– Intercultural differences in the features that make legal language a sublanguage
– Courtroom language and interpretation
– Plain language movements

Interpretation in religious and historic systems of law: 
– Jewish Rabbinic courts and the Halachah
– Jewish Halachah and the Bible
– Roman ecclesiastical courts and Catholic Canon law
– Sharia courts and the Quran and Sunnah
– Law, precedent, and application in historic legal systems

Language as evidence:
– Authorship attribution problem
– Copyright issues
– Forensic phonetics



More information on: http://lld6.haifa.ac.il/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1797&Itemid=239&lang=en


“It is generally accepted in the general public that the legal language spoken in court and written in legal documents is hard or even impossible to understand. Studies show that there are indeed some differences between ordinary and legal language (in particular, in vocabulary and the standards of drafting). However, legal language must appear incoherent to the general public for another reason – in addition to the words used, and their grammatical structure. Legal language must appear incoherent not just because of what is said in this language but also because of what goes in it without saying: the professional legal knowledge presumed, as a rule, in legal texts. This knowledge is presented explicitly only rarely but typical legal texts can be thoroughly understood only if it is regarded as implicit in them.”


Professor Le Cheng (Zhejiang University)

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)

Legal translation is concerned with comparative law and the incongruency of legal systems: elements of one legal system cannot simply be transposed into another legal system. In legal translation the comparison of legal terms precedes their translation. Legal translators must compare the meaning of terms in the source and target legal systems, which will make them aware of similarities and differences in their use across languages.

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

Problems in legal translation generally arise because legal systems conceptualise reality in different ways. Legal translators do not translate words. They translate terms embedded in specific cultural models. Legal systems reflect principles and values that underlie the organisation of a society. This is why the translation of legal rules is considered not as a translation of words or ideas but as an import of foreign methods of organisation of a society.

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


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