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PECULIAR FEATURES OF LEGAL TERMINOLOGY IN LEGAL TRANSLATION ,
Aims and objectives: My presentation is an attempt to provide a general overview of peculiar lexical, grammatical and syntactic features of legal English translation.
Common features which distinctly characterize the modern legal English, in general, are referred to by the term legalese. Legalese is “the specialized language of the legal profession” (Merriam Webster Dictionary), and more specifically, “the language of legal documents” (Harper 2001–2010).
There are three major features of legalese: 1. clarity 2. accuracy 3. objectivity
1. Clarity “the quality of being clear and easy to understand” as in “There has been a call for greater clarity in this area of the law” (Cambridge Dictionary Online)
2. Accuracy Accuracy means “being exact or correct” as could be seen in the following example “We can predict changes with a surprising degree of accuracy” (Cambridge Dictionary Online)
3. Objectivity Accuracy, in its own turn, is closely linked with objectivity, the latter meaning “based on real facts and not influenced by personal beliefs or feelings”, an example of its usage being “an objective and impartial report” (Cambridge Dictionary Online)
English legalese has developed and is characterized by particular lexical, grammatical and, syntactic features. Here are some of them:
Terms of Latin and Greek origin
id est (i.e)- That is in camera- In private et cetera- Other things of that type de jure- Rightful, by right de lege ferenda-What the law ought to be (as opposed to what the law is) de lege lata-What the law is (as opposed to what the law ought to be) bona fide-Sincere, in good faith ad hoc-For this purpose Affidavit- a signed statement
Technical and Semi technical terms
Claim In common law ‘claim’ means ‘a demand for a remedy or assertion of a right, especially the right to take a particular case to court’ (Dictionary of Law, 2003: 83). In Russian civil law the term has a broader meaning and might relate to situations that can be resolved in court or outside it. The translator thus has to select a Russian equivalent with the same legal effect from a selection of words with their different semantic fields depending on the context, i.e. судебный акт, процесс’ (claim/pleas), ‘требование; предложение’ (demand), ‘повод, предлог, оправдание’ (right), ‘жалоба, иск’ (complaint), ‘претензия, заявление, сделанное в суде одной из сторон’ (claim).
The Use of Legal Jargon
e.g. Without prejudice to- without dismissing or detracting from an existing right or claim Pairs of words (doubles)- the benefits and advantages; loss or damage Triplets- sold, assigned, or transferred; left, stored or transported.
However, sometimes a specific sort of synonyms is used in legal English writing and these are set doublets and triplets. Made and enter By and between Lying and situated Terms and conditions- постановления и условия Covenants and obligations Null and void-потерявший законную силу (о договоре) In good order and repair Represents and warrants Any and all- любыми средствами
Lexical repetition and redundancy Legalese avoids the use of anaphoric devices or referential pronouns. They are: personal pronouns (he, she, it etc) or the demonstrative ones (this, that, etc), in addition to the verb “to do” that may substitute a whole clause. e.g. He rents a car and so does his brother (Sabra: 1995) Actually, legal language is highly concerned with the exactness of reference; hence its tendency toward lexical repetition, and therefore to functional redundancy.
Variety in writing, particularly variety in vocabulary, is the typical virtue in many genres of writing. However, this is not the case in legal English writing. Indeed, when it comes to key terms, using the same term over and over again is expected. The reason for repetition of the same terms is to avoid confusion. As A. Enquist and L. C. Oates state “a different term for the same idea suggests to legal readers that the writer of the legal text intended a difference in meaning” (Enquist, Oates 2001: 3).
In the following example from standard contracts consistency of the repetitive use of the term “warranty” may seem boring, but legal readers – and, most importantly, writers – prefer accuracy over the confusing variety: Each of the Warranties shall be construed as a separate Warranty, and (unless expressly provided to the contrary) shall not be limited by the terms of any of the other Warranties or by any other term of this agreement (Share Purchase Agreement).
Using pairs of words of a reciprocal relationship E.g. The Lessee shall pay to the Lessor at the office of the Lessor. We work in a number of sectors with licensors and licensees, establishing compliance programs for licensing and distribution, and advising on licensing revenues.
Older words and modern equivalents
The aforementioned/ foregoing- set out above/written above Hereafter-after this Hereby- in this way/ by this Herein- in this (document) Notwithstanding- despite Thereafter- after that Therewith- with that
Avoidance of personal pronouns Avoiding “I” and “you” personal pronouns The use of first and second person expression (“I” and “you”) is avoided at all costs. It can be illustrated with a sentence from contract examples on-line: e.g. Subject to the Client complying with its obligations under these general terms, XXX agrees to complete and deliver the work to the Client in accordance with the timetable (Contract examples). Using the third person in statutes and contracts is predominantly common.
The usage of “shall” The modal shall has some difficulties both in interpretation of clauses containing it and in the translation of such clauses. Traditionally, the modal shall, in legal texts, carries an obligation or a duty as opposed its common function: expressing futurity: E.g. Lessor shall not be liable for a loss or damage to any property left, stored, or transported by Hirer.
The usage of “shall” More importantly, experts claim that any legal verb preceded by ‘shall’ is normally translated into another language in the present form: E.g. Tenant shall comply with any and all laws, ordinances, rules and orders of any and all governmental or quasi-governmental authorities affecting the cleanliness, use, occupancy and preservation of the Premises.
Lengthy and complex sentences Sentences in the English legal language are much longer than in other styles. Compound sentences tend to be of a much complex nature and include not just two or three, but more clauses, as in the following example:
329. Upon a trial for the violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, it is not necessary to prove the existence of any lottery in which any lottery ticket purports to have been issued, or to prove the actual signing of any such ticket or share, or pretended ticket or share, of any pretended lottery, nor that any lottery ticket, share, or interest was signed or issued by the authority of any manager, or of any person assuming to have authority as manager; but in all cases proof of the sale, furnishing, bartering, or procuring of any ticket, share, or interest therein, or of any instrument purporting to be a ticket, or part or share of any such ticket, is evidence that such share or interest was signed and issued according to the purport thereof (California Penal Code 2009: Section 319–329).
Law has a vital part to play in reinforcing communication between nations and peoples. Building the international rule of law is a mighty challenge for the 21-st century. We cannot achieve this goal by simply talking away to ourselves, confined within in our own legal jurisdictions and linguistic groups. We must cross the barriers of language. For this we need expert translators of language
Bibliography: Alcaraz, E. & Hughes.B. (2002).Legal Translation Explained. Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing, p.5 Garner, B. A. (2001).Black’s Law Dictionary. St. Paul, Minn. West Group. Second pocket Edition. Crystal, D. & Davy.D. (1986).Investigating English Style. New York: Longman. Tiersma, P. (1999).Legal Language. London: The University of Chicago Press. Sabra, A. M. M. (1995). Translation of Contracts. The American university of Cairo, p. 31 Alcaraz, E., B. Hughes (2002). Legal Translation Explained. St Jerome: Manchester.
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