Challenges To The Legal Translator

Susan Šarčević

in The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199572120
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Challenges To The Legal Translator

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Linguistics
  • Forensic Linguistics
  • Translation and Interpretation



Focusing on the link between law, language, and culture, J. B. White notes that legal translation is a ‘necessarily imperfect process’. This article focuses on challenges to legal translators caused by the inherent incongruity of legal systems, cultures, and languages. It attempts to ‘demystify’ the ‘miracle’ of legal translation, showing how skilled translators with legal expertise and cultural sensitivity use language effectively to compensate for conceptual incongruity by creating ‘terminological bridges’. The article then outlines some of the basics of legal translation, with the main emphasis on the special nature of legal texts, their function, and the degree of accuracy required to achieve intercultural communication for various purposes. It also considers the role of skopos (communicative purpose) in legal translation and considers terminological problems in legally binding instruments. Like comparativists, translators need to use methods of comparative law in their search for potential equivalents and to test their adequacy by comparative conceptual analysis. The article concludes by discussing considerations about the effectiveness of multilingualism.

Keywords: legal translation; law; language; culture; legal texts; skopos; legally binding instruments; comparative law; multilingualism; legal translators

Article.  5824 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Forensic Linguistics ; Translation and Interpretation

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »