Comparative Law for Legal Translators

by Guadalupe Soriano-Barabino (Author)
Monographs XIV, 210 Pages


One of the central challenges facing translators of legal texts is the ability to fully understand the requirements of the various legal systems worldwide. In this respect, comparative law plays an important role in legal translation, as it allows for the identification of similarities and differences among legal systems.
While the practice of legal translation requires an excellent knowledge of comparative law for the linguistic transfer to be successful, educational institutions do not usually train their students in how to make the most of comparative law in the translation of legal texts or how to rationally solve the problems arising from the differences that inevitably exist between legal systems. After emphasizing the importance of comparative law in the field of legal translation, this volume focuses on the main concepts that characterize some of the most relevant legal systems in the world and puts theory into practice by offering some exercises on comparative law applied to translation.
This volume will be of interest to the growing number of students, teachers, professionals and researchers working in the field of legal translation.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Part I Comparative Law and Legal Translation
  • Chapter 1: Comparative Law and its Importance in Legal Translation
  • Chapter 2: Legal Families and Traditions
  • Part II The Civil Law Tradition
  • Chapter 3: Italy By Angela Carpi
  • Chapter 4: France
  • Chapter 5: Spain
  • Chapter 6: Germany By Rafael Adolfo Zambrana Kuhn
  • Part III The Common Law Tradition
  • Chapter 7: England and Wales
  • Chapter 8: The United States
  • Chapter 9: Ireland
  • Part IV Comparative Law for Legal Translators: From Theory to Practice
  • Chapter 10: Training Legal Translators
  • Chapter 11: Legal Translation in the Classroom
  • Appendix 1: Contrat de travail à durée indéterminée – Salarié du Particulier employeur
  • Appendix 2: Contrato de trabajo indefinido del servicio del hogar familiar
  • Bibliography
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index
  • Series Index

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This volume is the logical consequence of over twenty years of study, teaching and research. As a law graduate and a translation graduate, I have had the chance to study the law of different countries and to apply my legal knowledge to the translation of legal texts, which has always given me great satisfaction and has allowed me to enjoy the secrets of legal translation, first as a student and later as a translator and a translator trainer. And as there is no path that can be walked alone; there are many people whom I have encountered in my journey through legal translation and whom I would like to thank for their support.

For the elaboration of this volume I must thank Angela Carpi, from the University of Bologna, for her contribution on Italian law. Likewise Rafael Adolfo Zambrana Kuhn, from the University of Granada, contributed with his knowledge on the German legal system. Catherine Way, from the University of Granada, has read and corrected the whole manuscript and without her inestimable help it would not have been possible to accomplish this task. I would also like to thank everyone at Peter Lang, particularly Dr Laurel Plapp, Commissioning Editor, and Jorge Díaz Cintas, Series Editor, as well as the readers of earlier versions of the manuscript, for their invaluable comments and suggestions.

For the day-to-day path followed to this finish line I have to thank, first of all, my family and, most especially, my parents, for always believing in me and for giving me the chance to fulfil my dreams. Secondly, my friends, for being always there. Thirdly, my colleagues, all of them, from my fellow student colleagues when, completely unaware, I commenced this adventure, to my colleagues at work, but most especially those who started as my teachers and became my friends, particularly Dorothy Kelly and Catherine Way, to whom I owe so much, the former as my guide all these years and the latter for showing me how to love the art of legal translation. Fourthly, Roberto Mayoral, for allowing me to learn from him. Fifthly, my students, for their patience and for what they have taught me. And last but ← xiii | xiv → not least, Antonio, Guillermo and Andrea, for their unconditional love and support and for the moments stolen, which I hope to be able to repay somehow someday.

Guadalupe Soriano-Barabino

Granada, May 2016

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The aim of this volume is not to explore legal translation as such but to offer an introduction to comparative law for translators of legal documents. It approaches comparative law from an applied perspective with a view to being a useful tool for translators-to-be, translator trainers and professional translators who wish to develop their activity in the field of legal translation.

The volume is divided into four broad parts, each one devoted to specific aspects of comparative law and its usefulness for translation. Even if some parts are more theoretical than practical, its relevance is justified by the need to acquire a certain subject area or thematic competence before tackling the translation of legal texts, as will be explained throughout the volume.

Part I of this volume puts comparative law and legal translation into perspective. Chapter 1 explores the meaning and development of comparative law and the relation between this discipline and translation. The reader will not find an exhaustive description of the meaning and scope of legal translation here, but rather an explanation of how and why comparative law can be a useful tool for the translation of legal texts.

Chapter 2 describes the legal families and traditions existing in the world, with special reference to the civil law family and the common law family, the two main Western traditions which are explained in this volume.

Part II of this volume is devoted to the civil law tradition. Several legal systems belonging to this family are described in the book and thus Chapter 3 is dedicated to Italy, Chapter 4 to France, Chapter 5 to Spain and Chapter 6 to Germany.

Part III is devoted to the other legal family described in this volume: the common law family. As in part two, several legal systems are described, specifically those of England and Wales in Chapter 7, the United States in Chapter 8 and Ireland in Chapter 9.

As will be explained further, legal systems are not analysed in depth, but only their main characteristics are outlined. In a volume such as this ← 1 | 2 → it would not be possible to describe the legal branches of all legal families. Besides, this is not our aim. Our intention is to offer a brief description of the main aspects of the legal systems described so that translators can then search for more detail according to their needs. We are convinced that in-depth analysis of branches, concepts, institutions, documents, etc. and their implications for translation are necessary to correctly translate between national laws and this volume intends to be a first step towards looking further into those aspects.

Part IV – the last part – aims to apply theory to practice. Theoretical knowledge of comparative law is of no use for translators if it cannot be applied to the practice of translation. In Chapter 10 we describe translation competence and analyse which are the primary areas of competence needed by translators of legal texts. This is followed by a discussion of what the ideal training for legal translators may be and, finally, a brief overview is offered of how legal translators are actually trained.

Chapter 11 offers a didactic approach to legal translator training from a comparative perspective. Translation techniques are explained and some examples on how to apply comparative law to legal translation practice are shown. Lastly, exercises for the training of translators of legal texts are suggested.


XIV, 210
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2016 (August)
comparative law legal translation legal families and traditions of the world legal translators
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2016. XIV, 210 pp., 8 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Guadalupe Soriano-Barabino (Author)

Guadalupe Soriano-Barabino is Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Granada. She holds a PhD in Translation Studies (Legal Translation) as well as degrees in law and in translation and interpreting from the University of Granada. She has studied law in Spain, Ireland, the United Kingdom and France, worked as a solicitor in the United Kingdom and taught at the Universities of Ulster and Salamanca. She also has extensive experience as a sworn translator and interpreter for English, French and Spanish.


Title: Comparative Law for Legal Translators