Universite Abdelmalak Essaadi * Ecole Superieure Roi Fahd de Traduction
Turjuman vol:23 issue:2 pages:96-146
Compared to other Languages for Specific Purposes (LSPs), the terminology of the legal domain poses a number of specific challenges to translation. Firstly, most legal terms refer to abstract concepts and are not defined through referential properties (contrary to e.g. machine parts in a technical domain), but rather intentionally, using other abstract concepts. Secondly, because the law deals with all aspects of everyday life, legal terminology shows a considerable overlap with Language for General Purposes (LGP). Thirdly, the legal jargon often uses a number near-synonyms (e.g. violation, breach, infringement or null and void) for the same concept (Gozdz-Roszkowski 2013). These properties potentially cause semantic vagueness and necessitate that an onomasiological approach to legal terminology (first defining a concept and then listing the terms) be supplemented with a semasiological approach that investigates how near-synonymous terms and terms shared with LGP realize their flexible meaning potential in specific contexts. In a translation setting, this problem of semantic instability is further aggravated because the terms’ contextual nuances do not only have to be adequately rendered in other language but the terms’ translational equivalents also have their own ambiguity in a different legal system, whose concepts might be similar but often not completely equivalent. In this paper, we look at a case study of the translation of the Statutes and Regulations of the University of Leuven (Organiek Reglement KU Leuven) from Dutch and the Belgian-Flemish legal system into English with different legal systems present in the background (UK Law, American Law, European Law). First we analyse the ambiguity of the terms in the source text language-internally through a corpus-based collocation analysis of terms extracted from the document and compared with their use in the official decrees of the Flemish government pertaining to higher education. Secondly, we analyse the consistency with which ambiguous terms are translated in two (independent) English translations of the Statutes and Regulations as well as translations of other university policy documents.