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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 II: The Civil Law Tradition


Part II The Civil Law Tradition In this part, several legal systems belonging to the civil law tradition are analysed in a succinct way so that the information may be used in translator training. During the initial stages of education, trainee translators do not normally have a thorough knowledge of the legal systems to which the texts they translate belong to, but they must at least be able to grasp the main features of these legal systems and have the necessary competence to do research and find the information needed to correctly understand source texts and produce accurate and high quality target texts. In later stages of training they will be able to go into further detail according to their needs. For this reason, we have identified some main aspects that translators should be aware of about the legal systems with which they work: the historical evolution of the legal system, the organization of law, sources of law, system of courts, and the legal profession. We have decided not to include aspects related to any particular branch of law, such as family law, contract law or criminal law, as the enormous range of texts translators are faced with in their daily practice make it impossible to decide which branch or which text type could be most usefully described. However, we agree with Mattila (2006: 266) that there is ‘a need for systematic study and comparison of legal institutions and concepts and their designations, from the standpoint of many languages, in...

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