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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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Part I: Comparative Law and Legal Translation


Part I Comparative Law and Legal Translation This first part of the volume comprises two chapters. In Chapter 1 we define comparative law and analyse its development, nature, object of study and methodology to later study the interaction between comparative law and legal translation. In Chapter 2 a brief overview of the main legal families of the world is offered, with special emphasis on the two legal families that gain prominence in this volume: the civil law and the common law families or traditions. Chapter 1 Comparative Law and its Importance in Legal Translation 1.1 Definition of comparative law The first step before studying the interaction between comparative law and legal translation would be to define what is meant by ‘comparative law’. Comparative law is not a branch of law or of legal science, such as family law, administrative law or criminal law, among others, are. On the contrary, comparative law can be considered as a study and research methodology. Zweigert and Kötz (1998: 2) define it as ‘an intellectual activity with law as its object and comparison as its process’. As the same authors point out, the extra dimension of comparative law is that of internationalism and this is what confers on this method of study its essence: comparative law is the comparison of the different legal systems of the world, not the comparison of different rules in a single legal system. The object of study of comparative law is, then, a plurality of legal systems and its...

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