Culture is a very interesting phenomenon since it shapes, creates, and influences – amongst others – the legal system of a given society and its language. Whereas the different national legal systems might share some principle features, reality proves that in an international communicative situation involving legal texts, “mutual understanding” can be at least challenging. This is in many instances attributed to the conceptual nexus that underlies certain terms of one legal system that cannot be identified or isolated in this of another language and – by extension – culture. The work of translators is key in such communicative environments since they aim to bridge these cultural differences and bring about understanding. But at this point, one can at least wonder: Is this at all possible given the cultural differences that underlie legal systems and their respective legal terminology?
Being intrigued to revert to this question, this work is essentially a comparative study of Greek (EL) and English (EN) term pairs based on the underlying concepts. The EL terms and concepts (i.e. definitions) were extracted from national pieces of legislation and the English standardized terms were retrieved from literature and online resources. This work discusses, also, the EU approach as regards the multilingual terminology utilized in the framework of the instruments used for the purpose of national law harmonization. The findings of the above research suggest that – from a national law perspective – the standardized terms are on many occasions merely approximating.
These findings lead then to a very interesting theoretical discussion as to the nature of “equivalence” in the translation process, especially in cases where the professionals strive to find “equivalence in conceptual non-equivalence”. The prevailing views on the concept are discussed and evaluated from the perspective of legal texts and their unique features. Finally, the role of terminologists and translators is revisited, underlying their significance in the framework of the process of facilitating understanding in an international context.
You can read the full thesis here.
Subject: Revisiting the Greek and English Legal Term Pairs in the Domains of EU, Civil, Commercial, and Penal Law Based on the Underlying Concepts: A Critical Reflection on Equivalence and the Role of Terminologists and Translators.
Author: Eleni Svoronou, LL.M. – Work Supervisor: Dr. Themis Kaniklidou
Institution: Hellenic American University