Legal Translation

Leon Wolff

in The Oxford Handbook of Translation Studies

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199239306
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Legal Translation

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  • Linguistics
  • Translation and Interpretation
  • Forensic Linguistics


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This article explores dimensions of legal translation theory. It examines the rationale for legal translation, explores the definitional scope and linguistic properties of legal texts and analyses the underlying doctrinal approaches to legal translation (the ‘stretch and snap’ theme). The purpose of legal translation is to create a text that will be interpreted in the same way by legal professionals in the target legal system, as it would be in the original legal system. The aim of translation is not to erase linguistic and cultural differences, but to accommodate them, fully and unapologetically. The challenge is to convey the legal text as a fragment of a living legal system. The legal translator needs awareness of how the text functions in the source country's institutional, political, and economic context. Legal translators should be driven by one overarching objective: to provide literate rather than literal translations.

Keywords: legal translation theory; legal texts; stretch and snap; linguistic and cultural differences; legal system; legal translator

Article.  6318 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Translation and Interpretation ; Forensic Linguistics

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