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Comparative Law for Legal Translators


Guadalupe Soriano-Barabino

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.


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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 spe- cific 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 compara- tive 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...

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