法律英语词汇特点及其对翻译的影响

Lexical Characteristics in Legal English and Its Influence on Translation

法律英语词汇特点及其对翻译的影响

摘要

本论文的研究目的主要是对法律英语独特的词汇特点进行深入研究,分析法 律英语翻译目前存在的困难,参照翻译理论的普遍原则,结合法律英语具体词汇 特点,提出具体的翻译方法,力求可以丰富翻译理论及法律语言学理论。

论文共分六章:

第一章是对法律英语的一般介绍。通过对已有研究的总结,解释了法律英语 的定义,对法律英语语言进行了分类,并指出,由于法律文件语言其独特的研究 优势,本论文的研究材料主要取自于这类法律语言。同时强调了法律词汇在法律 英语中起的重要作用。

第二章对法律英语的词源渠道进行了分析和研究。指出了来自古英语和中古 英语的古语词汇、来自拉丁语的词汇和短语以及来自法语的词汇作为法律英语词 汇三大主要词源的原因,并举例分析了这三大词源在法律英语词汇中必不可少的 重要作用。

第三章是本文的主体部分之一。法律英语作为一种具有规约性的工具语言, 与普通英语在很多方面都有许多的差异,其中最显著的就是其独特的词汇特点。 对于法律英语独具一格的词汇特点,作者从八个方面入手,作了较为详尽的阐述。 其中包括法律术语简洁正式特点,同(近)义词并列特点,情态动词使用特点,代 词限制使用的特点,形容词副词使用特点,大量法律新词补充特点等等内容。在 论述的时候,作者不是简简单单描述这些词汇特点,作者还逐条分析了它们存在 的原因,从而发现法律英语之所以用词要求准确、正式、严谨、庄重,是与法律 工作的特点有直接的关系。

第四章是对法律英语翻译的概述。(本论文所指的法律英语,指的是英汉及 汉英法律翻译两个方面。)首先阐述了法律英语翻译的紧迫性、重要性。接下来 探讨了法律英语翻译的标准,根据英语翻译的标准作者提出了法律翻译的两大标 准,从而得出结论:全面了解和掌握法律英语的词汇特点与提高翻译质量关系密 不可分一一掌握了词汇特点,有利于正确理解法律原文,有利于将法律翻译的更 准确、更专业。然后作者又指出了现阶段法律英语翻译中面临的主要困难,剖析 了造成这些困难的原因。

第五章是探讨法律英语词汇特点对法律英语翻译产生的影响,是本文的另一 重要部分。中国的发展使得来华投资的海外投资者需要了解中国的法律,而中国 经济与国际经济的接轨,提出了了解其他国家法律法规的要求,因此法律文献的 翻译也显得尤为重要。作者将法律英语词汇的特点与法律翻译现状结合起来,从 英汉翻译实践出发,列举了大量论据,从情态动词shall的翻译、名词单复数翻 译,到法律术语创造性翻译等六个主要翻译细节探讨了法律英语翻译的具体实践 问题,实现了理论与实践的相结合。

论文最后一章为本论文的结论部分。作者重申了掌握和了解法律英语词汇特 点及翻译方法的重要作用,指出了本论文的研究目的和意义。

作者主要采用描写法和归纳法,在前人提出的法律英语词汇特点的基础上, 通过对大量语料的分析,归纳出一个较完整全面的总结,进而探讨法律英语词汇 特点对翻译的影响。诚言,该硕士论文相对于建立一套法律文献翻译理论体系而 言,微不足道,作者仅希望这一探讨能抛砖引玉。

关键词:法律英语;词汇特点;翻译技巧

Lexical Characteristics of Legal English and Their Influence on Translation

Abstract

The main purposes of this present thesis are to carry through a further investigation of the special lexical characteristics of legal English, to analyze the existent difficulties in the legal English translation, and to present the specific legal English translating methods which are based on general translating principles and theories and on particular legal lexical characteristics.

This thesis is composed of six Chapters:

Chapter One is a general introduction of legal English. Based on the legal English study at hand, the author discusses the definition and classifications of legal English. The author also points out that due to the peculiar research advantage of the language used in these legal documents, the research materials in this thesis are mainly chosen from this kind of legal language. Furthermore, the author indicates the important function of legal lexicon in the legal English.

Chapter Two makes an investigation and discussion of legal English etymology. The author introduces the reasons why the archaisms, Latin and French have become the legal lexical sources. Then the author mentions the absolute necessity of these three lexical sources in legal English.

Chapter Three is the main body of this thesis. As an instrumental language, legal English is different from common English in many aspects. Among these differences, the most distinct is the lexical characteristics. From eight aspects, the author elaborates on the peculiar lexical characteristics of legal English, including employment of the condensed and compact formal words, juxtaposition of synonyms or near-synonyms, the employment of modal verbs, low adoption of pronouns, particular usage of adjectives and adverbs, and supplement of legal English lexicon. During the discussion, the author does not merely make a simple brief description of the lexical characteristics; on the contrary, the author makes an analysis of the reasons for the occurrence and existence of these characteristics. These analyses, as the reader will easily discover, show that the precise, formal, and rigid character of legal English has a direct relation with the character of legal professions.

Chapter Four discusses the basic information of legal English translation. The “translation of legal English“ in Chapter Four and Five refers to both the Chinese-English and the English-Chinese translation. In the first part of this chapter, the author brings to light the significance, as well as the criteria, of legal English translation. Based on the general criteria of English translation, the author raises two requirements for legal English translation and then draws the conclusion that the all-rounded comprehension and mastery of legal English lexical characteristics has a close relation with the quality improvement of legal English translation——the mastery of legal lexical characteristics can help to correctly comprehend the original legal text and make legal English translation more accurate and professional. In the second part of this chapter, the author mentions the difficulties in legal English translation and explains the causes of these difficulties.

Chapter Five, the influence upon legal English translation of lexical characteristics, is an important focal point of this thesis. As a result of China’s developments, foreign investors, who wish to engage in the business transaction with Chinese companies, have a strong desire to better comprehend Chinese law. At the same time, intimate contact with the international economy brings about the requirement of Chinese people to know more about foreign legal laws of other countries. Thus, the translations of legal writs become more and more significant. The author applies legal English lexical characteristics in legal translating practice, and discusses the main practice of legal English translation which consists of six essential parts such as the translation of the modal verb “shall’, the treatment of nouns in the singular or plural form, the innovation of the coinage in legal language, etc.

In the conclusion, the author reaffirms the importance of the mastery and comprehension of legal English lexical characteristics and of legal English translation. Also mentioned are the investigating purpose and significance of this thesis.

In this thesis the author mainly adopts descriptive and inductive methods of research. Based on current opinions about legal English lexical characteristics, the author makes a thorough analysis of linguistic data, gives an exhaustive generalization and also discusses the main influence that lexical characteristics have on legal English translation. In reality this thesis is not broad enough to give a foundation for the whole of the integrated legal translating theory-system. The author merely hopes that this thesis can throw some light on legal document translation.

Key Words: legal English, lexical characteristics, legal English translation.

Contents

摘要 i

Abstract iii

Subjective Emotive Meanings 34

 

Bibliography 70

Vlll

  • Introduction

With the establishment of market economy and the rapid development of international cooperation, there are more and more opportunities to communicate with foreign countries, especially with those countries whose official language is English. It is well accepted that legal law plays an essential role in these co-operations. Therefore, the study of legal English has become more and more important.

  • Definition and Classification of Legal English

As an instrumental language, legal English refers to the legal customary language used in the common law system by jurists, judges, attorneys and other legal working staff whose official language is English. Thus legal English is speech used in professional realms, which is different from common every day English. Legal English belongs to the category of applied linguistics and has distinctive lexical characteristics, a fixed mode of expression and a formal writing style. According to the formal degree of the language usage, Martin Joos raised the viewpoint of five language varieties—©frozen style,②formal style, ©consultative style,④casual style, and ©intimate style. (Cited in 雷铳,2002: 2) Legal English has a typical formal style and possesses the basic traits of preciseness, rigidness and authority. Due to the particularity of legal language, legal English plays a significant long-term role regulating people’s lives in politics, economy, science and culture.

Xu Yaosong (2002: 460) points out that according to different applied situations, legal English can be divided into four classifications:① the legal English used in judicatory judgments and reports,② the legal English used in court,③ the legal English used in the legal documents,④ the legal English used in legal negotiation or communication between counsels. Owing to the function as the evidence and voucher authorizing legal activities, legal documents must have a standard written form. Therefore, the materials in the following thesis are mainly collected from legal English documents.

Ji Yiguang (1999: 6) presents that legal English documents refer to those legal documents having the legal avail and written in English, such as Treaty, Agreement,

 

Arbitration, Will, Contract, and Guarantee. Legal English documents are the important measures for the international communication between legal working staff, and for the progress of international business affairs. With the development of economy and the advancement of science and technology, the significance of legal English documents is increasing gradually. Generally speaking, legal documents have mainly two aspects of content: the prescription for the obligations and the affirmation of the rights. Thus the rigidness and stability of the contents, in the wording and phrasing of legal English documents, give legal English a fixed expression mode and formal written style.

  • Significance of Legal English Lexicon

Because the most important and fundamental requirement for legal English is to express clearly the legal law or the legal concepts with accurate words and expressions, legal English highly stresses writing’s accuracy, brevity and clarity. The legal draftsmen emphasize the preciseness of the lexical choices and try by all means to avoid misunderstanding and ambiguity in order to reflect the will of the parties concerned and to ensure the correct execution of the law.

Legal English lexicon, a special-purposed lexicon, is different from common English lexicon. On the one hand, the legal English lexicon shares a similarity with the common English lexicon because they share the same phonetic system, morphologic system and grammatical system. On the other hand, legal English lexicon has its own peculiarities when adopting legal words, one must be very cautious, otherwise ambiguity and unnecessary troubles can occur. Therefore, preciseness, formality and clarity become the uppermost lexical characteristics of legal English. The mastery of these peculiar lexical characteristics is the key point to correct understanding and better translation of legal English writs.

  • Aim of Study

Law is law by words. Morality or custom may be embedded in human behavior, but law, virtually by definition, comes into being through language. Words are also a lawyer’s most essential tools. Attorneys use language to discuss what law means, to communicate with clients, to argue in court, and to question witnesses. Legal rights and obligations of their clients are created, modified, and terminated by the language contained in contracts, deeds, and wills.

The aim of this study is to shorten the gap between the legal profession and the general public. Henceforth, the author is going to examine the features of legal English lexicon and translation. This thesis has been divided into six parts in order to go about this task. The first part is this introduction and is followed by the second part, which discusses three main lexical sources of legal English. The third part is the main part of the whole paper as it presents the main characteristics of legal English lexicon. In this part, the author summarizes eight features of legal English lexicon based on the study of legal English documents. These eight features are employment of condensed and compact formal words, juxtaposition of synonyms or near-synonyms, employment of modal verbs, low adoption of pronouns, particular usage of adjectives and adverbs, and supplement of legal English lexicon. In part four the author discusses the introduction of legal English translation and in part five both applies legal English lexical characteristics in legal translating practice, and discusses the main practice of legal English translation. The sixth and final part is a brief conclusion of the overall findings and analyses that the author has made throughout the thesis.

 

  • Three Main Sources of

Legal English Lexicon

The English glossary has wide lexical sources, and legal English is the same. Due to the English language’s long history of development, legal English owes itself to three main lexical sources: ©words inherited from archaisms;②words taken from Latin; and ③words taken from French.

  • Words Inherited from Archaisms

In the following pages, the author will discuss the first lexical source of legal English, i.e., the words inherited from Old English and Middle English.

Legal English is a highly formal language. One of the remarkable features in legal English writs is the use of archaic words of Old English and Middle English. Generally speaking, Old English refers to the English language used before the Norman Conquest. Middle English refers to the English used during the period 1100A.D. to 1500A.D. And the English used from 1500A.D.to date is considered as Modern English. The common law system is based on the common law of England which was formed after the 12th century (黄永平,2004: 23). Because of this, today’s legal English leans heavily on Old and Middle English. For example, the archaic word “ye” which means the plural form of “you” is no longer used in common English. In the court of sessions, however, people still often have the chance to hear such expressions as “hear ye” and “oyez”. The phrase “hear ye” means “listen upn in modem English, and the term “oyez” is used to introduce the opening of a court of law. Another archaic word “sayeth”, which means “say” in modern English, has been long expelled from common English while it is still used frequently in court. For example, the sentence “Further affiant sayeth nof’ means “The affiant has nothing else to say”” in modem English. These archaisms are exceptionally difficult to be understood or accepted by those people who have rare access to legal documents, while these words are the familiars of the legal working staff.

Still today the archaisms play an effective role in legal English. For example, the first few paragraphs in the prologue of agreements or contracts are often initiated with i6whereas’\ Such kind of legal documents are often ended with the expression of witness of\

  • Reasons for the Existence of Archaisms

Why are these outdated archaisms still alive in legal English? There are at least three reasons:

  • The role of legal law and the function of these archaic words ensure the existence of archaisms in today’s legal English.

After the birth of human society, legal law has been regarded by the governing class as the reflection of the will and the controlling tool. In order to stipulate rights and obligations of the parties concerned as precisely and unambiguously as possible, the legal language has to be precise and formal. The archaic language is considered more formal than daily speech. Consequently, formal and archaic languages are thus closely related. Due to the race toward great formality, legal language naturally gravitates to archaic words.

  • The inheritability of the common law system makes the existence of archaic language inevitable in legal English.

As is common knowledge, common law is a type of case law, i.e., law based on judicial decision and precedent rather than on statutes. Cases from even hundreds of years ago can still be taken into account when the judge makes a decision nowadays. Over the years, these antiquated terms and phrases have acquired authoritative interpretation, which bestows a sense of timelessness on the legal system.

  • The favoritism of the legal working staff, to some extent, helps the steady status of archaic words in legal English.

Archaic language seems particularly authoritative, perhaps even majestic. The employment of archaic words in legal English can make speech formal, objective, and convincing. In this case, the legal working staff prefers to use these out-dated words in order to distinguish themselves from the common people and to show the specialization of legal English.

These reasons mentioned above help to bring about the continuing employment of the archaic words by the legal working staff in legal English. Despite the difficulty in understanding the meanings of legal terminology, to which those who have rare access to legal documents are averse to using, the employment of these archaic words in legal English could make writing more exact and authoritative, as well as condenses and formalizes the sentences.

EX.:

Article 18: Where a carrier issues a document other than a bill of lading to evidence the receipt of the goods to be carried, such a document is prima facie evidence of the conclusion of the contract of carriage by sea and the taking over by the carrier of the goods as therein described. (United Nations Convention on the Carriage of Goods by Sea, 1978)

The adoption of the archaic compound adverb “therein, instead of the prepositional phrase “in that document, expresses the meaning succinctly and formally. Due to this crucial advantage, archaic words such as this can be found almost everywhere in legal English even though they are dying out of the modern English realm. For example, in court the witness needs to say “/ declare that the information given herein is true”” and “In testimony whereof, I have set my hand to this: ..y

  • Types of Archaisms in Legal English

Using these archaic expressions to mean some parts in the legal writing or to refer to the parties concerned in the lawsuit is of great importance towards the preciseness of legal writs. The archaic language well incarnates the characteristics of legal English as formality, authority and inflexibility. David Crystal and Derek Davy have pointed out——“It is especially noticeable that any passage of legal English is usually well studded with archaic words and phrases of a kind that could be used by no one else but lawyers79 (Crystal, D. & Davy, D., 1988: 207) The most typical archaic words are the here- there- and where- words, that is, compound adverbs and propositions made up of here /there/where-: (The terms in the parenthesis are the

definitions of the archaisms in Modem English.)

  1. Archaisms beginning with “hereI(The archaic prefix “here-“ is equal to

“血力.)

hereby (= by this means)

herein (= in this document)

hereof (= of, or concerning with)

hereto (= to this)

hereafter (= in the future)

hereinafter (= later in this official paper, statement, contract, etc)

heretofore (= until now; before this time; hither to)

hereat (= because of this)

herewith (= with this letter or document)

hereinabove (= above)

hereunder (= under this)

hereinunder (= below)

  1. Archaisms beginning with “there-‘(The archaic prefix “there-“is equal to

thereto (= in addition to)

thereon (= upon that thing)

therefore (= for this, that or it)

therefore (= as a result of something that has just been mentioned)

thereupon (= as a result of that)

thereabout (= near a particular time, place, number)

thereafter (= from that time on)

thereat (= at that time or place; because of that)

thereby (= with the result that something else happens)

therefrom (= from that place, thing etc)

therein (= in that place, or in that clause)

thereof (= concerning something that has just been mentioned)

theretofore (= before or until that time)

therewith (= with that; in addition to that; following upon that, thereupon) thereunder (= under that)

  1. Archaisms beginning with ‘”where-‘.(The archaic prefix “where-“ is equal to “whictT and means i6the document/contract/statute/provision previously mentioned or implied^^

whereby (= by that)

whereon (= after which)

wherefore (= for what reason; why) whereunto (= whereto)

whereas (= because/ considering that/ while on the contrary/ inasmuch as) whereat (= as a result or consequence of)

wherein (= in which place or part) whereof (= old use of which)

whereupon (= in close consequence of which) (Black’s Law Dictionary, 1999) 2

As one source of English legal lexicon, archaisms add the color of sublimity and elegance to the legal writing and also create an antique artistic atmosphere to the legal sentences. The appropriate selection of archaisms in legal English make the sentence structure compact, the sentence meaning precise, and the writing style elegant. That is why Crystal and Davy regard archaisms as one symbol of legal English. (1988: 207) 2.2 Words Taken from Latin

As a kind of cosmopolitan vocabulary, English borrowed a large amount of glossary from other languages. More than half of the English vocabulary is derived from Latin origin. Some legal terms have come directly from Latin. (Mario Pei, 1969: 20) In the following part, the author will present another source of legal lexicon ——Latin words.

Whenever a Standard English dictionary of law or an English-Chinese dictionary of law is opened, seen are densely listed Latin words. Before 597 A.D., Latin words

Hereinafter the author uses Black’s as the short form. had already infiltrated English, and to this day, a great many of Latin words are maintained in the English language, especially in the legal realm. Those who study legal English can greatly benefit from the language study of Latin because Latin is an important element in the common law system. Please have a look at the following example and pay attention to those words in boldfaced italics. Zhang and Cheng (章文 君 & 程乐,2004: 94) offer a passage of judgment—INITIO it should be said that there is a good prima facie case for the decision of Lord Irvine, the Lord High Chancellor, to simplify the language used in court as part of the civil law reforms which bear the imprimatur of the Master of the Rolls, Lord Woolf. From April 26 (1999) Lord Irvine wants lawyers, pro bono publico, to be much more straightforward in the way they speak pendente lite. Out will go, inter alia , hearings in camera or ex parte. In will come hearings in private or without notice. Plaintiffs will be replaced by claimants. Newspaper editors will no longer live in terror of writs. Instead they will tremble at claim forms. Mr. Anton Piller will soon be forgotten except in cobwebbed old tomes. The eponymous legal term will be succeeded, ad infinitum and sine die by a plain old search orders There are 10 Latin words in this passage of judgment which has only 145 words.

  • Reasons for Latin Source

What is the reason for the active existence of Latin in legal English? And why can Latin words be widely used in Legal English?

One reason is that the Latin language is a dead language whose form and meaning will no longer change. Owing to the fixed meaning, no ambiguity will be caused.

The most important reason, however, relates to the historical vicissitude of legal language in Britain.

Latin is the extinct language of the Roman Empire. After the Roman Conquest, Latin spread throughout most of Europe. Latin carved the prints in many language styles such as official English, business English and also legal English.

As early as 597 A.D. the arrival of Christianity to Britain brought not only the

 

new country leaders, but also a further influence of Latin. With the popularization of Christianity, more and more Latin words appeared in written legal documents. Some Latin words came into English directly and some came into English indirectly through French. After 1066 A.D., the time of Norman Conquest, Latin substituted English to become the dominant written language of English law——statutes, charters and writs.

Although Latin was banned in court after the seventeenth century, it did not vanish from legal English; Latin still remains influential. During the translation practice, legal translators noticed that it was hard to find an appropriate English term to substitute a Latin word without changing the original meaning; therefore, even now it is easy to find Latin words in relevant sentences connected with the titles of lawsuits or the parties concerned. For instance in Britain, the criminal lawsuits must be mentioned in the name of King or Queen. So there must be the terms of “Rex (or Regina) versus so – and – so” in the title of the criminal suits (符建华,2005: 172). The terms “Ref and 6iRegina, are the Latin terms for “King” and “Queeri\ And ‘”versus” is also a Latin word which means ^againsf” in the lawsuits.

It can be concluded that Latin played the most important part of legal English in the era of Old English and Middle English and had a profound influence on English. So it is no wonder that Latin words are still active in legal English.

  • Types of Legal Latin Words

In the legal English vocabulary, there exist two types of words from Latin.

  • One type is those words borrowed directly from Latin.

These words haven,t been assimilated by English and they still reserve the original Latin appearance. The Latin origin can be recognized even at first glance. For example (the parts in the parenthesis are the English translation of these Latin terms): EX.:

jus retentiouis (= right of retention)

obligatio solidaria (= joint obligation or joint debt)

beneficum appelandi (= right of appeal)

condominus (= co-owner or owner-in-common)

jus vicinitatis (= right of adjacent or adjacent relation)

confide jussio (= joint guaranty)

nudum pactum (= contract without compensation; or naked contract)

amicus curiae (= A party that is not involved in a particular litigation but that is allowed by the court to advise it on a matter of law directly affecting the litigation) (.Blacks, 1999)

It is easy to recognize this type of Latin words because they maintain their original Latin form. However, they have caused comprehension difficulties for non-legal English major readers.

  • The other type is those words assimilated by English.

These Latin words have already become the composing part of English vocabulary. It is quite hard to notice the Latin origin. For example: “affirni‘appeal’, “compensate”, “detention”, i6derelicf\ “deprive”, ^injury”, iilitiganf\ ^negotiate”, “j11ry”, “omissiol, and iCregistef\

  • Significance of Legal Latin Words

On the one hand, the frequent use of Latinate words in legal English makes the language frozen and rigid. On the other hand, it makes the language difficult to understand; even a learner with a medium or high English level may find it difficult to understand legal jargon or legal documents. However, under most circumstances, the employment of native common English words would make the legal writs more natural and less formal without an air of affectation.

The adoption of the borrowed words such as the Latin words makes the writing more scholastic, formal and profound because their meanings are stable and fixed. As the intellectual words in English, the Latin words are mainly used in the formal writs such as academic thesis, official papers, and documents. In legal English, Latin is used to indicate or refer to the legal concepts precisely, directly and compactly. Although the Latin words are difficult to read, remember and comprehend, as one important lexical source, the Latin words produce a marked effect——to make the legal English style more formal and to add rigidness and authority towards this

language. Therefore, the Latin occupies an unbreakable status in the legal English.

Because of the peculiar function of the Latin, legal English learners and legal English working staff has to attach great importance to Latin study, otherwise, the great amount of Latin words would make the reading and comprehension of legal documents difficult and frustrating.

2.3 Words Taken from French

  • Types of Legal French Words

Besides the archaisms and the Latin words, legal English glossary still includes a great amount of legal terms inherited from French. These French legal terms can be divided approximately into two groups.

  • The first group of French words has been assimilated gradually by English language in the aspects of phonology and morphology.

These French words have already melted into English language. For example: “arresf’, “assault”, ^attorney”, “ba,“bil,”complain/, “crime”, “equitable”, “evidence”, “disclose”‘dispose”‘disagree”, “damages” J’heiklarceny”, judgment, “justice”, “mortgage”, “prisol, Ciplaintiff\ “summons”, “ransorri, “slande J’suif’, “schedule”, “treasol, “trespass”, “verdict’, etc. It is hard to notice their French origin.

  • The other group of French words still maintains the spelling and pronunciation characteristics of French words.

These French words can be recognized by their French origin even at first glance. Some of them are listed below with their English explanation (Black’s, 1999):

Table 1:

FrenchEnglish explanation
demesnedomain; realm.
en ventre sa merein the mother’s womb
fee simple

absolute

an interest in land that, being the broadest property interest allowed by law, endures until the current holder dies without heirs.
feme coverta married woman.
feme solean unmarried woman.
seisin / seizinpossession of a freehold estate in land; ownership
summonsa writ directing a sheriff to summon a defendant to appear in court.
verdicta jury’s finding or decision on the factual issues of a case.
voir direto speak the truth

 

2.3.2 Reasons for French Source

The reason why French has become one of the legal English lexical sources of legal English is also connected with the history of Britain.

French influence on the English vocabulary is much more direct and observable. In 1066A.D, after the Norman Conquest, the Middle English era started. Although Latin was still an important language at that time, the French language was becoming more and more popular. The most outstanding change of English during that period was the influence of French towards English. The Norman Conquest made Britain realize the unification of legal law for the first time. The British law which was the embryo of common law came into being. Therefore, there emerged more and more groups of judges and attorneys who were accomplished in the common law. It is due to the fact that most people in the governing class at that time were Normans who used mainly the French language. Consequently, French began to be widely used in national affairs and social cultural issues making French the essential language in Britain.

In the twelfth century, legal documents in Britain started being written in French. After about 200 years, French finally became the spoken language of the court and the official language in Britain. During the Middle English period, most of the leaders of Britain were the dukes of Normandy, which was a province of France. Since these leaders had the bloodlines of France, the legal law which indicates the will of the governing class must have been influenced. Also the upper class was proud of speaking French. All of these factors impelled the influence of French on legal

language.

Thus it can be seen clearly that during the whole Middle English era, with the political development, the changes of dynasty and the alterations of the main culture, the legal language in Britain became a peculiar language system melding three languages——the archaisms, the Latin language and the French language. These three different languages, as the three main legal lexical sources, supplemented each other in order to accelerate the development of legal English. People found it difficult to use English words to substitute them appropriately.

From the English history, one can draw a conclusion that French words emerged in the English system during the production of British law and were assimilated by English mainly in the Middle English period. The study and use of French became a practice of formality and gentility. This practice also left its lasting mark upon legal English. In a word, the influence of French makes legal English noble and authoritative.

 

Chapterlll Characteristics of Legal English Lexicon

Different special-purpose English languages, such as literary English and scientific English, have different individual lexical characteristics. As an instrumental language with a frozen style, legal English, likewise, has outstanding lexical characteristics. Due to these particular lexical adoptions, legal English forms the features of authority, objectivity and formality. Hereinafter the author will make a brief analysis of the main lexical characteristics of legal English.

  • Employment of Condensed and Compact Formal Words

The utilization of formal precise language is an important principle of legislation. As the representation of the governing class’s will, legal law is characterized by strict meticulous observation of forms. In order to maintain the preciseness and rigidness of law, the legal wording and phrasing need to be as exact and formal as possible. Precise legal language is propitious to better actualization and operation of legal provisions, aiding legislation to go into effect.

Due to the reason mentioned above, legal languages have obtained the features of oneness and fixity; legal English is the same. In legal English, almost every legal term has a peculiar legal connotation and cannot be substituted by the ordinary word which is used in common English. For example, in legal English, we cannot substitute “summons” with “ticket’, or replace “negligence” with “mistake“ inconsiderately. And in addition, one has to adopt different terms to refer to even the same legal conduct according to different sub-areas in the legal realm. For instance, one should use “award” to refer to the result of the arbitration, use “verdict’ to mean the finding of a jury in a trial, and use “decisiotT to call the judgment of a judge even though these three terms belong to the same judging conduct. Though legal English is going through the transforming process from overformal and inflexible to relatively compact and informal, the legal English draftsmen aspire after the quality of formal style language as being highly precise and compact because legal English prefers formal words. There are mainly three characteristics of the employment of condensed and compact formal words in legal English:

  • Mass employment of legal technical terms,
  • Adoption of common words with the legal meanings, and
  • Adoption of condensed and compact abbreviated terms of art.
    • Mass Employment of Legal Technical Terms

Generally speaking, there exists a set of professional and exclusive technical terms in every scientific realm including legal English. Due to the professional request for the accuracy in the wording and perspicuity in the legal concepts, the legal English working staff has developed a set of exclusive legal technical terms such as “alibi”, “demurred’, “fee simpld’, “felony”, “lierT, “mandamus”, “plaintiff”tori’, etc.

In legal language, precision is worth considering because it is the one thing about which lawyers have always been deeply concerned and articulated. The use of these technical terms is the method usually adopted by lawyers to achieve exactness. These technical terms are words and phrases that are used only in the legal oriented realm and whose meaning will cause less argument. Their application within different legal contexts may be disputed, but when terms like “tort” are used, lawyers are quite certain of its meaning (Crystal & Davy, 1988: 210-211). The meanings of these legal technical terms are established by usage, and thus possess relative stability.

The legal technical terms are particular to legal English, and the meanings that these terms represent are professional and unitary. Though the amount is not large, these terms still have a highly frequent employment in legal English writs, and it is also hard to find the phenomenon of polysemy in the realm of legal technical terms. These legal technical terms, though quite unfamiliar among common people, serve as a signal of legal English to distinguish the legal English staff from the common English readers. If a reader does not have enough knowledge about this characteristic of legal English, he will certainly face a lot of comprehension handicaps in the reading of legal English documents.

What is the reason for this characteristic? What is the advantage of it in legal

English?

For most legal working staff, the basic elementary requirement is to remember and master the legal technical terms. For example, the legal working staff would use ^defendanf9 instead of Cithe party against which an action is brought to mean 被告,. The main reason is that the utilization of legal technical terms would make the legal documents condensed and accurate. Some of the legal technical terms and their definitions in common English are as follows:

  • “habeas corpus”–“a writ employed to bring a person before a court, most frequently to ensure that the party fs imprisonment or detention is not illegal
  • “to”‘—“a civil wrong , other than breach of contract, for which a remedy may be obtained, usually in the form of damage sy
  • ) 66cy pres doctrine””— “the equitable doctrine under which a court reforms a written instrument with a gift to charity as closely to the donor’s intention as possible, so that the gift does not fail
  • ^precedenf”—^a decided case that furnishes a basis for determining later cases involving similar facts or issuesy
  • ) sub rogation^9— “the substitution of one party for another whose debt the party pays, entitling the paying party to rights, remedies, or securities that would otherwise belong to the debtor^Black’s, 1999)

The examples above are sufficient to illuminate the concise and comprehensive character of legal technical terms. With the help of several words or even one single word, the quite complex legal concept can be expressed exactly and concisely. The legal English staff can immediately grasp the meaning of one legal technical term with just one quick glance because the meaning of this legal technical term is fixed and definite. However, it is not an easy work to interpret the meaning briefly to the common people.

Serious legal law requires serious language style, and serious language style requires the incarnation of serious and condensed legal technical terms. Due to the rigid and inflexible character of legal terms, the formal and restrained style of legal English is formed. Besides this conventional reason, there is still the subjective reason for the long term employment of these uncommon legal terms. Many legal working staff such as judges and lawyers wants to appear larruping and knowledgeable, so they show a strong partiality for the uncommon legal terms. The employment of such legal technical terms, on account of the professional and unitary connotations, can indicate all steps in a legal conduct more veraciously and can define the rights and obligations of the two parties in the law suit more accurately. Due to the fixed connotations which are independent of the context, the adoption of legal technical terms in legal English documents can effectively prevent misunderstanding and avoid ambiguity, i.e., it is one of the effective ways employed by law practitioners to achieve accuracy. The mastery of the particular usage conditions and legal connotations of these legal technical terms can assist legal English learners or translators to better comprehend legal language.

  • Adoption of Common Words with Legal Meanings

In the former part, the author has discussed legal technical terms. In the following part, another factor that also helps to create the wide gap between legal English and common English will be viewed. This factor is the employment of a number of common words with legal meanings in legal documents. By this it is meant that a great many words used in various legal documents mean one thing to non-legal staff, but may mean something completely different to those in the legal field.

In legal English writs, these common words have special legal meanings which are quite different from the meanings in common English. The American legal linguist Peter M. Tiersma (1999: 111) calls these words “Legal Homonyms”, or words that share the same form, but have completely different meanings with those in common English. Tiersma brings forward this point of view in order to emphasize the specialty, independency and stability of legal English words.

Due to the accurate and precise meanings, these common words with legal meanings are employed to indicate the given fact in the lawsuits, to illuminate the reasons and conditions, and to incarnate the meanings specialized in legal realm. Their legal meanings are so completely different from their common meanings that if the reader tried to understand legal English documents according to mere common English meanings, he could not comprehend its contents. For example, the word “actiorT means “a process of doing something (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. 1995) in common English while it means “a civil or criminal judicial proceeding in legal English (Black’s, 1999). The word “execution” means “the act of executing something (Longman Dictionary. 1995) in common English, while the legal definition is “the act of carrying out or putting into effect (as a court ord^ry\ (Black’s. 1999)

In the following parts, one will have a look at the advantages of and reasons for this lexical characteristic.

The usage of common words with legal meanings has the advantage of expressing clarity and compactness, and also incarnates the authority and regularity of legal English. Due to the existence of these legal words, legal working staff can communicate more easily and exclusively. During the development of the English language, the evolvement of lexical meaning has become quite complex. Generally speaking, English lexical meaning changes all the time with the development of the synchronic changes and also the diachronic changes. As one sub-branch of common English, legal English follows these changes and developments. As a result, those “Legal Homonyms”, as so-called by Tiersma, separate naturally from the common English vocabulary. Though seemingly quite familiar towards English learners, those “Legal Homonyms^^ indeed have quite different and specialized legal meanings. Due to the long period of employment by the legal working staff, some of the common words have acquired comparatively fixed legal meanings. Consequently they found their way into legal English and became legal terms. If legal English translators want to understand correctly these “Legal Homonyms”, they have to know more about the peculiar legal definitions of these words. More examples of common words with peculiar meanings in legal English are as follows:

©limitation: a statutory period after which a lawsuit or prosecution cannot be brought in court.

©minor: a person who has not reached full legal age.

average: accidental partial loss or damage to an insured ship or its cargo during a voyage. (Black’s. 1999)

From the above English definitions, it is evident that there are many legal terms which were derived from common words, but their legal meanings are absolutely different. They may possess a variety of meanings when used in common English, but when they are used in legal English, they are endowed with a single and definite meaning which only appears in legal language. Thus, ambiguity can be avoided. To illustrate this point, the following table contains a small sample of words. To make a clear contrast, both the usual meanings (Longman Dictionary. 1995) of the selected words and the specific meanings (Black’s, 1999) in the language of the law are given in the table. This table is by no means exhaustive.

Table 2:

Legal termCommon meaningLegal meaning
alienate (v.)Cause sb. to be unfriendly or indifferent.to transfer or convey (property or a property right) to another
counterpart

(n.)

Person or thing that corresponds to or has the same function as sb. or sth. else.One of two or more copies or duplicates of a legal instrument
hand (n.)end part of the human arm below the

wrist

To give; to deliver
Instrument

(n.)

implement or apparatus used in performing an action, esp. for delicate or scientific workA written legal document that defines rights, duties, or liabilities.
motion (n.)(manner of) movingA written or oral application requesting a court to make a specified ruling or order.
party (n.)social gathering to which people are invited; group of people working or traveling togetherOne by or against whom a lawsuit is brought
plead (v.)make repeated urgent requestsTo make a specific plea,esp. in response to a criminal charge
purchase

(V.)

buyThe acquisition of real property by one’s own or another’s act (as by will or gift) rather than by descent or inheritance.
specialty

(n.)

interest, activity, skill, etc to which a person gives particular attention or in which he specializesContract under seal

 

  • Adoption of Abbreviated Terms of Art

Legal English is going through the transforming process from overformal and inflexible to comparatively compact and informal in the aspect of words9 adoption and

Acronyms are words derived from the initials of several words. For example:

Universal Copyright Convention

 

IRCInternal Revenue Code
DCDetention Clause
RCRelease Clause
PCTPatent Cooperation Treaty
GATTGeneral Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
WIPOWorld Intellectual Property Organization
2) Clipped words 
Clipped words refer to the abbreviations of longer words or phrases by clipping
off beginning or ending part. For example:
juris.Jurisdiction
sigre.signature
atty.attorney
trf.transfer
surv.surveyor
cont.contract
bargn.bargain
ctfs.certificates
banky.bankruptcy
3) Compound abbreviations 
Compound abbreviations mean terms formed by mixing different abbreviations
together. For example: 
temp. tfs.temporary certificates
neg. inst.negotiable instrument
inv. doc.invoice with documents
gen. mtge.general mortgage
Int. cl.international classification
E/Testate tax

com. ‘1 DDK

commercial vaver

 

The explanations of these terms have been accepted by the international commercial realm and have become routine terms, so the meanings of these abbreviations are fixed and stable. The legal concepts they refer to are precise. If these terms did not exist, legal English draftsmen would have to use verbose clauses which might not guarantee the accuracy of legal English. Therefore, the adoption of the condensed and compact abbreviated terms of art, to some extent, incarnates the rigidness, accuracy and regularity of the words’ adoption in legal English documents. The legal English translators should try their best to learn the common abbreviated legal terms of art by heart. If the translator found an unfamiliar legal abbreviation in the legal English translation, he should guess the meaning according to the word formation or the context. The authors of legal English writs should not be self-constituted to coin a new legal abbreviation; otherwise, the authority of legal English would be affected.

and void\ It is easy to notice that two or three words with similar meanings——nouns, verbs, adjectives, propositions or even conjunctions (mainly and/ or) are frequently joined together in legal English writs.

In legal English, two common types of synonym or near-synonym juxtaposition are used:

  • Two synonyms are connected by “and’.

The phrase in this case expresses the conjunct meaning of the two synonyms, instead of the total meaning. For instance: “null and void’, “acknowledge and confesCfit and propeywill and testamenf\ and ^stipulation and provision^.

  • Two or more words with the same part of speech or close meaning, or even opposite meaning, are connected by

The phrases in this case usually describe different or even opposite aspects of a certain notion. For example: “‘any part or parts of if’loss or damage”, “‘express or implied’, “purchase or seW\ and “in contract or in torf\ into being. The examples are as follows:

EX.:

breaking and entering (Old English + French),

act and deed (Latin + Old English),

goods and chattels (Old English + French),

heal and cure (Old English + French),

keep and maintain (Old English + French),

null and void (French + French),

fit and proper (Old English + French),

pardon and forgive (French + Old English),

(Please note that the words in the parenthesis refer to the vocabulary source.) 2) It makes legal English more accurate and severe.

Accuracy is the soul of legal language. Repetition of synonyms or near-synonyms can help to achieve this goal. Due to the fact that the meanings of words can be influenced by the context, the synonyms or near-synonyms cannot be treated equally or exchanged mutually. Therefore, the use of juxtaposing synonyms or near-synonyms, to some extent, is an effective language method to makes the writing complete without ambiguity and the content integrated with wider range. When synonyms are repeated, meanings to be expressed are strengthened. When near-synonyms are used together, they complement each other and widen the range of the meaning. This greatly helps the lawyers of the two parties to avoid struggling with the morphological or semantic nuance of the words. EX.

This contract is made by and between the Buyers and the Sellers, whereby the Buyers agree to buy and the Sellers agree to sell.,,(《购货合同范本》)

If the author used “by the Buyers and the Sellers”, he would only indicate the person who made the contract. Similarly, if the author used “between the Buyers and the Sellers”, he would just show the range of the people who entered into the contract. It is obvious that the joint meaning of “by and between99 is much more precise than the meaning of “by” or “between if used solely. The juxtaposition of terms “the Buyers and the Sellers” points out the people who are taking part in the whole signing process and who will obey this contract.

In short, the meaning of the phrase can be decided by the conjunct meaning of the synonyms, and in this way, ambiguity caused by polysemy can be reduced or avoided. Therefore, the legal draftsmen are able to achieve the aim of being accurate through the adoption of strings of synonyms or near-synonyms.

  • It adds more rhythms to legal English and makes legal sentences easy to remember.

Those who are familiar with rhetorical devices will easily discover alliteration in the phrases such as “aid and abef\ “part and parcel’, and “safe and sound’. Alliteration facilitates memory and makes sentences more convincing. From the aspect of phonetics, the two words beside “and /of make a strong sense of rhythm, which aids in impressing the audience.

Owing to the effect caused on vision and also on sound perception, juxtaposition of synonyms or near-synonyms impresses the audience easily, and incarnates the complexity and conservatism of legal language as a kind of customary language.

It is universally accepted that accuracy is most important in legal English, so it is unnecessary to put undue stress on the use of juxtaposition of synonyms or near-synonyms. To some extent, this kind of structure indicates the sedulous search for morphological propriety and semantic accuracy, reflects the archaism and formality of legal English, and is also the embodiment of the complexity and conservatism of legal language.

3.3 Employment of Modal Verbs

The frequent employment of modal verbs is another characteristic of legal English documents.

The functions of legal documents are the imposition of obligations and the conferring of rights. Through legislation, society understands clearly what is allowed and what is not. Consequently, people’s social performance has become standardized. Particular social functions make legal English different from other English styles. One such difference is commonly indicated by the use of modal verbs. As a branch of the subclass of the verbs modal verbs contribute modality, expressing such concepts

as volition, probability and insistence, to the verb phrase. The most common modal verbs are ^shair, ^may\ “may not (shall not,and “shouldEnglish

learners must be very familiar with these five modal verbs. Their correct usage in legal English documents, however, is not an easy task. The major function of modal verbs is to impose an obligation or right, instead of expressing the mood of a verb as in common English.

EX.:

Article 10 (6): Nothing in this article shall prejudice any right of recourse as between the carrier and the actual carrier. (Hamburg Rules) EX.:

Article 71: A party may suspend the performance of his obligation. (The UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG))

Many more examples can be readily given. From the above sentences, it is clear that in legal English writs, ^shair, in its affirmative form, imposes a strong obligation, which is stronger than ”should’\ ”shall not” denotes a certain action which shall be refrained from;“祖ay” signifies power, benefit, right or privilege that the parties concerned have the liberty to enjoy.

  • Reasons for the Adoption of Modal Verbs

Why does legal English utilize modal verbs so frequently?

The reason is that laws or statutes represent the will of the governing class, and also indicates the restricting power of the judicatory subject towards the performance of the judicatory object. Consequently, laws or statutes, usually in a confirming and commanding tone, prescribe obligations and rights for the judicatory object.

For example, when the legal documents prescribe the right or privilege that the parties concerned have the liberty to invoke, i.e., what the parties concerned can do, legal English would use “”may do”; when the documents refer to the obligations, i.e., what the parties concerned should do, legal English would use “shall do”; when the documents denote the refrained actions, i.e., what the parties concerned cannot do or must not do, legal English would use “may not do” or “shall not do> \ Furthermore, one need to give more attention to the usage of the modal verb “”should” in legal English. By all means we must avoid translating Chinese «应该,into “should’ and vice versa. In legal English, “should” is used to express conditionality or contingency, that is, to emphasize that something might or might not happen. This modal verb works as a subjunctive conditional clause. The Chinese term “万一”,to some extent, can be used as the translation for “”should” in the legal realm.

EX.:

128:当事人可以通过和解或者调解解决合同争议。……和解、调解不 成的,……当事人没有设立仲裁协议或者仲裁协议无效的,可以向人民法院起诉。 (《中华人民共和国合同法》)

The parties hereto shall, first of all, settle any dispute arising from or in connection with the contract by friendly negotiations. Should such negotiations fail, such disputes may be referred to the People fs Court having jurisdiction on such disputes for settlement in the absence of any arbitration clause in the disputed contract or in default of agreement reached after such disputes occur.

The usages of these three modal verbs “shall’, “may” and ^should” in the above translation are relatively appropriate and suitable. They indicate clearly the three routine disposals dealing with the civil disputes——negotiations, arbitration, and jurisdiction. Therefore, when translating legal documents, the translator must never interpret literally without real understanding. The true legal meanings of the auxiliary verbs must be taken into account; otherwise, it will be difficult to insure the preciseness of the translated version.

  • Frequent Use of “shall”

Compared with the other modal verbs used in legal English, the usage of the modal auxiliary “shair is one of the extraordinary lexical characteristics of legal English.

According to Longman Dictionary (1995) :‘shul has several uses : ① I/we shall used to express what you will do in the future; ©shall I/we? used to make a suggestion, or ask a question that one expects the other to decide; (3) You/he/she/they shall (formal or old fashioned use) describes what will happen to someone; (4) We shall see (spoken use) when the future is unknown or when a definite answer is not given;⑤(Formal) used in official documents to show a law, command or promise, etc.

From the above, it can be seen that there are two main uses of the word “shall. One’s use is to express simple future tense; the other is that it is used to express promise, purpose, suggestion, demand, order, etc.

As a legal English word, i6shair does not indicate the future, but the stipulations and obligations. In every kind of regulation, “shair is one of the most highly used words, and expresses the strongest imperative mood which is even stronger than “should\ and “ought to>\ And the phrase “shall nof’ expresses order or

standard of prohibition. The important occurrence of “shall’ in legal English has much to do with the characteristics of this language. It is well known that one of the essential tasks of a legal document is to make compulsory stipulations. The parties concerned are supposed to fulfill obligations fully while executing rights. That is to say, if anyone fails to do so, he is considered to have violated the law. In this case, the tone in the wording of these stipulations is completely imperative and non-negotiable. Therefore, it is understandable for “shair to undertake this task since it expresses the imperative mood most strongly of all the modal verbs.

When used in statutes, contracts, or the like, ^shair is generally imperative and mandatory. The frequent use of ”shalV is indeed one of the incarnations of the authority and restriction of legal English. Usually we give the Chinese for the translation of “shaW\ But this translated term is, to some extent, quite general. In fact, there are three main connotations for the legal use of “shall”:

  • The modal verb “shall’in legal English denotes the imposition of order or legal obligation. Here “shair serves as i6musf9 in plain English.

EX.:

Article 2: All the activities of a joint venture shall comply with the provisions of the law, decrees and pertinent regulations of the People fs Republic of China.(《中华人 民共和国中外合资经营企业法》English version)

In the above sentence, the word “shall“ denotes the obligation of joint venture instead of indicating the future of these companies9 activities. With the help of this modal verb, this sentence asserts more authority and severity.

  • The word “shairindicates the official announcement or proclamation in legal English documents.

EX.:

The Contract Law of the People fs Republic of Chinashall take effect on O ct. 1,1999,

  • The word “shalcan express the term and condition of a contract. It is used to indicate a promise of the activities happening in the future. In this condition, “”shair is equal to the phrase “promise td” or “will/to be .

EX.:

The Publisher shall pay the Author … an advance, which shall be a charge of all sums to the Author under this Agree帆(李佥波,2003:18)

The word “shair in this sentence enacts the obligation of paying in advance to the other party concerned. The first word “‘shalV indicates the imposition of paying money as a legal obligation, and the second serves as a promise or a statement of the money’s status.

The definitions of “shall’ in legal English, on all accounts, may not be only these three. The modal verb “shair has the function of indicating that the document in which it occurs is legal, which may help to explain its pervasiveness in legal language. More and more legal working staff agrees that the use of the modal verb ^shalV has become a symbol of legal authority.

3.4 Low Frequency of Pronouns

Legal English has great restriction and selectivity towards pronouns, especially the personal and demonstrative pronouns.

In modern common English, pronouns, especially the “central“ pronouns —— personal, reflexive and possessive pronouns play a considerably active role. With their major function to avoid repetition and to achieve cohesion, pronouns are one kind of cohesive device. For example, the usage of pronouns in the following sentence is only found in daily English.

EX.:

We talked very little and that was only about her check that was two days late and she had called the Welfare and they said they mailed the check and it should be there tomorrow, but call again tomorrow if it’s not there and we’ll prepare an emergency money order for you. (Raymond Carver & Tom Jenks, 1989:73)

As this example points out, pronouns are frequently used to avoid redundancy. Most often, pronouns serve as the “replacements“ for nouns or noun phrases in the English language.

In legal documents, however, due to the rigidity of legal language, the adoption of pronouns is a prudent work. The legal draftsmen try their best to avoid using pronouns especially indefinite pronouns and demonstrative pronouns. If the documents have to illuminate information like “who” and “what”, even though the context is very clear, the draftsmen of legal documents would rather use more words to paraphrase them or repeat the nouns directly than to employ pronouns. The purpose of this manner of action is very obvious and understandable-to avoid ambiguity. Instead of utilizing pronouns, some other means, such as repetition of the words or phrases and choice of some archaic words like the here-/there- words, are utilized so as not to harm precision. And at the same time, less adoption of pronouns in legal English shows evidence that the writ has no individual, subjective or emotive relation with the draftsmen and the subscribers. Nouns such as “the supplie尸,“the purchase, “the life insured”, and “the tenanf are often repeated in legal English writs. Maj one Dick Romauber and Lynn B. Squires (1982) supply two sentences as proof of this point:

  1. The servant’s liability stems from the duty owed to a third person under the law to conduct himself so as not to injure others.
  2. The servant’s liability stems from the duty owed to a third person under the law requiring the servant to act so as not to injure others.

Obviously, the word “himself in sentence a. causes puzzlement for the reader because the person to whom the word “himself’ referred might be “servant or “a third person”. In sentence b., “”the servant is repeated so that the referring object is clear without ambiguity.

  • Reasons for Low Frequency of Pronouns

As shown above, nouns are often repeated instead of being referred to by pronouns. Examples of this can be found throughout legal English. The explanation for this manner of action is to avoid ambiguity and make the writ clear and exact. In the legal realm, rights and obligations are restricted to what is stated explicitly and random inference is not allowed. Thus the legal English draftsmen utilize a way to express this—to repeat nouns instead of using pronouns- without any hesitation, even though this way seems less compact and more awkward. Due to this characteristic of legal English, legal English translators should at all costs avoid translating the repetition of nouns into the corresponding pronouns. The original repetition of nouns should be kept in order to help Chinese readers have a better comprehension of the accuracy and sobriety of the original writ, even though such reduplicative repetition might not correspond with the Chinese form of expression.

  • Utilization of”””

Although there is low frequency of pronouns in legal English, some pronouns still appear in legal English documents such as the pronoun

There are two main functions of using the pronoun V in legal English: ①to refer to the mentioned legal action, proceeding, etc; and ②as the subject or object of a verb when the real subject or object is later in the sentence.

EX.:

Article 17: The maritime court, having accepted an application, shall make an order within 48hours. Where the order involves adoption of measures for the preservation of the maritime claim, it shall be executed forthwith; where the conditions for the preservation of the maritime claim are not met, it shall make an order to reject the application,(《中华人民共和国海事诉讼特别程序法》English version, 2002)

 

The pronoun “if used in the above sentence refers to “the maritime court’ mentioned before so that unnecessary repetition can be avoided. The terms “preservation of the maritime claimA. however, are repeated twice instead of being replaced by the pronoun ‘铲.Consequently, ambiguity is avoided.

  • Utilization of “same”

In the legal English realm, many legal working staff use the word “same” as a pronoun to refer to the mentioned thing, person, idea, situation, etc. See the following example:

Ex.:

When one party to the Company assigns all or part of its investment, the other party shall have the preemptive right to purchase the sazne.(《中夕卜合作经营合同格式》)

The “same^ in this sentence refers to the “investment mentioned above.

  • Rare Adoption of First Personal and Second Personal Pronouns

In legal English, attorneys try their best to avoid using the first personal and the second personal pronouns such as “尸,”相 e”, “we”, and i6youf\

It is due to two reasons.

  • The legal fact and the suited legal law are usually the main focus of the writ’s author and audience. The experienced lawyers would use Vor as less as possible. The terms such as “I might cause uneasiness in the clients, because the suitor or the appellant might think that they did not receive real legal service. The purpose of paying money to the lawyer for assistance is to win the case. The clients need their lawyers to (ithink” instead of to .
  • The frequent utilization of ‘Tor in a petition or an indictment would make the documents seem less formal and less professional. The term might make the audience think the lawyer arrogant and haughty because no one likes continually being commanded by other people. Thus tactful legal working staff would work hard to avoid using terms such as “‘you musf’Jyou should\

3.5 Particular Usage of Adjectives and Adverbs

  • Reasons for the Restrained Adoption of Adjectives and Adverbs with Subjective Emotive Meanings

As is already known, legal English is outstanding in severity and justness. Therefore, the legal terms this language uses have to be serious and candid, i.e., legal words and expressions seldom have emotive meanings.

Owing to the fact that legal English favors the objective description and interpretation, few adjectives are seen with subjective emotive meanings such as “splendid\ “happy”, “wise” and “disgusting“ in legal English documents. Legal English working staff likewise tries to avoid using adverbs of degree such as ^very’\ “quite”, and “rathe f in the legal realm.

Legal language requires terseness and stateliness, and it is inclined to clarify and specify the legal contents practically, realistically and objectively. The adjectives and adverbs with subjective emotive meanings, however, can often arouse the audiences9 different comprehensions, causing an uncalled-for dispute to arise. That is why many legal working staff in English speaking countries, while signing contracts or composing legal formats, often prescribe special terms and conditions in order to restrict people using adjectives and adverbs such as “splendid’, “happy”, “rather>\ and “quite”. It is for the sake of avoiding vague comprehension by the judge, the lawyer, or the parties concerned in the lawsuit. For instance, in order to avoid ambiguity and dispute, there is one famous clause, 6tNon-literal Interpretation Clause'”, made by the two parties in court when they need to make clear their own intention.(郑达轩 1999:130)

  • Adjectives Used in Legal English

The adjective modifiers used in legislative English usually have individual special significance. These adjective modifiers are not dispensable, and cannot be substituted by other words with similar meanings in the least. Generally speaking, most adjectives used in legislative English are those of restriction and modification regarding quality, degree and range. The choice of this kind of adjective indicates

5 “非字面解释条款” preciseness. The choosing range of the adjectives used in judiciary English is relatively much broader, while the chosen adjectives in legal English need to be in accordance with the characteristic of accuracy.

And what is more, in the legal English realm, ^said” and “such’ are usually used as adjectives in the legal position paper and the case-summary.

  • The adjective “such^is often employed to mean “this” or

In legal English, the word “sudi” is a frequently used adjective. The word “sucli” is often connected with a person, thing, concept or category. For example: “such instances of neglecf\ “such witnesses as these”, “sitch an example of compassion^, and “such payment”.

  • Definitions of “sue”‘, “this”,and “that”

The “”such^ in the above examples means “血s” or In Longman Dictionary (1995), the definition of is to talk about a person, thing, etc., which is of the same kind as that which has already been mentioned. For example, “Such behavior is just not acceptable in the schools In this sentence, “such’ means the behavior that has been specifically mentioned earlier. The most common definitions of “血s” in Longman Dictionary (1995) are to talk about a person, thing, idea, etc. that has already been mentioned or that the person you are talking to already knows about. For example, “What is the purpose of your visit to this countryy And to talk about the person or thing nearest to you, the time that is soonest, etc. For example, “Tm going to visit my Mum this Wednesdayy The most accepted English meanings of “thaf’ in Longman Dictionary (1995) are to talk about a person, thing, idea, etc. that has already been mentioned or that the person being spoken to knows about already. For example, “”Who was that man I saw you with last night?” And to talk about the person or thing that is the farthest distance, or the situation that is not happening at the moment. For example, “‘No, that is your desk, this one is mine

  • Reasons for the adoption of i6such”instead of “血s” or ^thaf

Take the following sentence for example. i6We conclude that the trial court’s order constituted an abuse of discretion in the procedural posture of this case that compels us to set aside such orders Undoubtedly, “such” in “such order”9 here means, “the order that has already been mentioned earlier”. As a result, “such ord”‘ will definitely refer to the order specified earlier, that is, the trial court’s order. If “sucli’ here is substituted by “”this” or “that”, the above sentence will be changed to: “We conclude that the trial court’s order constituted an abuse of discretion in the procedural posture of this case which compels us to set aside this/that orders According to the definitions in the dictionary, “this order1 may refer to: ①the order that has already mentioned, i.e., the trial court’s order, or ②the order that is nearest to the speaker or the writer. And similarly, the interpretations of “that ord”‘ may be as follows: ①the order that has already mentioned, i.e., the trial court’s order, or ② the order that is farthest from the speaker or the writer. Clearly, “this/that order” cannot indicate so precisely as “such order9“.

In legal English, slight ambiguities or imprecision are likely to cause great trouble and bring many losses to the litigants. Expressions like “this/that order'” may lead to much more ambiguities than “such ordef \ Therefore, the legal working staff would rather employ “such’ than “this” or even if sometimes “sucli’ is not so common and a little archaic compared with “this” or “thaf\

  • The fixed definition of “said’and “the said” as adjectives in legal English.

The meaning of “”said’ in ordinary English is the past tense and past participle of “say”. (Longman Dictionary 1995) In legal English, however, “‘said’ and “the said’ are used when giving more information about someone or something that has just been mentioned. For example, “The said weapon was later found in the defendant’s horned (Longman Dictionary 1995) The terms of “said’ and “the said’ should be translated “茨’and 上述的Chinese.

3.5.3 Adverbs Used in Legal English

As was discussed above, the adverbs used in legal English rarely have any emotive meanings. The adverbs employed in legal English are ones that signify range, degree, frequency and state. The choice of adverbs must be highly taken into consideration. As with adjectives, the usages of the adverbs are also different in legislative English and judiciary English.

Legislative English indicates the criterion of people’s behavior. Thus it has an extremely important significance to define rigorously the legal behavior from the perspectives of range, degree and frequency. Although the usages of adverbs in judiciary English also need to be highly considered, the choosing range is much broader than that of legislative English. Especially in the legal verbalism of prosecution, indictment, vindication and judgment, employing the proper adverbs correctly, can enhance its effect.

EX.:

  • Article 82Both the plaintiff and the defendant shall fill in the Investigation Form for Maritime Accident truthfully at the time of bringing an action and of submitting defense respectively.(《中华人民共和国海事诉讼特别程序法》)
  • Article 70 Top reserve maritime evidence, the maritime court may, taking into account the specific circumstances, seal up the evidence, or take the reproductions, duplicates, photographs, or make video recording, extracts or records of inquests. It may also take the original evidence where definitely necessary.(《中华人民共和国海事 诉讼特别程序法》)

The adverbs in the above sentences have their individual unique meanings and functions, and also their usages are very precise, exact and proper. The usages of these adverbs incarnate felicitously the sobriety of legal English and the objectivity of lawmaking.

3.6 Adoption of Nominalization

  • Introduction

Nominalization is typical in legal English. It refers to any process by which either a noun or a syntactic unit, functioning as a noun phrase, is derived from any other kind of unit such as a verb or an adjective. As is already known, legal English favors long-sentence structure in which nominal structures have more advantages than clauses or verbs.

Most nouns in legal English documents are abstract nouns. When English nouns serve as the head-word of the subject or the object, the nouns can have more determiners. So the frequency of nouns in legal English is considerably higher than other parts of speech. Legal staff prefers to use noun phrases than verbs to express the legal writs or the legal concepts. Please have a look at the following sentences:

Article 6 (1) in Hamburg Rules is “The liability of the carrier for loss resulting from loss of or damage to goods according to the provisions of article 5

Altogether six phrases are used to modify the noun “liability”.

In Article 81 (ibid), “Avoidance of the contract releases both parties from their obligations under it, subject to any damages which may be due. Avoidance does not affect any provision of the contract for the settlement of disputes or any other provision of the contract governing the rights and obligations of the parties consequent upon the avoidance of the contract The number of nouns in this sentence is seventeen in total.

From the above sentences, it is obvious that most of the nominalized nouns are not only the abstract ones which indicate action or state but also the non-predicate verbs which serve as the nouns.

  • Advantages

Nominalization is a syntactical process concerning sentences and nominal phrases. In other words, phenomenon of nominalization in English happens when a verb or an adjective is replaced by a noun construction using a gerundive or nominal form of verb or adjective. From the perspective of syntactical function, English structure of nominalization can avoid using the personal subject so that the whole sentence structure won’t be overstaffed. Furthermore, there are many combining ways for nominalization structure. English nominal structure is concise and comprehensive and internally well organized. It conveys more information with fewer words. Employment of nominal expression can also make narration accurate. In a word, the rhetorical functions of English nominalization in legal realm are accuracy, strictness and objectivity. This kind of structure is suit to express precise and complex legal concepts.

EX.:

  • The creation and operation of international service trading enterprises and organizations shall be in compliance with …
  • Smuggling of goods whose import or export is subject to prohibitions or restrictions, which constitute criminal offences, shall be subject to …
  • The amendment of the contract or other appendices shall come into force only after … (THE CONTRACT FOR SINO-FOREIGN COOPERATIVE JOINT VENTURE)

From the above three sentences one could notice that the headwords of these nominalized phrases are respectively “‘creation^, “operation”, “smuggling^ and “amendment’. These three words derivate from their respective roots——“”create”, “‘operate”, “smuggle” and “amend\ The nominal words still preserve actions and states of the original verbs.

  • Discussion of Reasons

The phenomenon of choosing the structure of nominalization stands out in legal English documents. Characterized by constrictive meaning, Nominalization is an important way to establish complex principals and subordinating constructions. As the agent is often covert and there is a lack of modifying elements, nominalization is characterized by an objective, solemn and precise style which is typical for legal documents. This kind of structure can make legal descriptions serious and compact, writ suitable for the writing purpose, and rules or regulations understandable by readers. Generally speaking, nominalization especially of verbs is useful in legal documents for a variety of reasons:

  • It omits mention of the participants in an event, for instance to conceal their identity.
  • It focus on the relationships between events as opposed to the events themselves.
  • It can compactly mention an event that is already known to the reader.
  • It expresses a large amount of information compactly with the nominal structure, an expression can be concise, the sentence-building flexible, the style of writing natural, complicated ideas well conveyed.

EX.:

Members may avail them selves of the exceptions permitted under paragraph 1 in relation to judicial and administrative procedures, including the designation of an address for service or the appointment of an agent within the jurisdiction of a Member, only where such exceptions are necessary to secure compliance with laws and regulations which are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement and where such practices are not applied in a manner which would constitute a disguised restriction on “ade.(陈明瑶,2003: 20)

One can draw a conclusion that even though the structure of nominalization is in the form of phrase, what it expresses is equal to what a whole sentence does.

  • Conversion between English and Chinese Legal Writs

When legal translator carries out translation of legal nominalization, he (or she) has to try hard to make translation precise and compact in order to keep the objectivity of original words. Although there are rare fixed legal translating patterns between Chinese and English, some regularity can be still found anyway. For example, English language is preponderant of nouns while Chinese language is preponderant of verbs. If the verb in Chinese verb-object, subject-predicate, or modifier-modified structure needs to be turned into an English noun, the most commonly used structure is “noun + preposition + nourf\ In this structure, the later noun functions as a logical object or agent of the nominalized verb. In this way, translation is rendered concisely and clearly. In a word, structure of “noun + preposition + noun” can be translated into Chinese verb-object, subject-predicate, or modifier-modified structure, and vice versa. Following sentences are good examples.

EX:

第六条:国家提倡劳动者参加社会义务劳动,开展劳动竞赛和合理化建议活 动。(《中华人民共和国劳动法》)

This sentence could be translated into:

“Article 6: The state shall advocate the participation of laborers in social voluntary labor and the development of their labor competitions and activities of forwarding rational proposals.”

EX:

第十条:劳动合同变更需经双方协商同意,并办理劳动合同变更手续。(《劳动 部、对外贸易经济合作部关于印发〈外商投资企业劳动管理规定〉的通知》)

Similarly, this sentence could be translated into:

“Article 10: Modification of a labor contract shall be implemented through consultation and agreement of the parties involved, procedures for the modification shall be undertakeny

The above examples show a good way to deal with structure of nominalization in legal translation——transformation between English structure of nominalization as “noun + preposition + non”‘ and Chinese verb-object and subject-predicate structures. Therefore, better comprehension and mastery of legal English nominalization is of benefit a lot to legal translation.

  • Frequent Adoption of Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases

Preposition refers to a word which is placed before a substantive and which indicates the relation between that substantive and a verb, an adjective, or another substantive. Although it is categorized as a function word or sometimes even named as an empty word, preposition actually carries some implications. For instance, when someone went through somewhere, this place must be something such as a door, passage, tube, or hole because “through implies an action of entering something inside at one end and leaving it at the other. Therefore, playing an important role in common English, preposition is semantically empty but pragmatically substantive. The important usage of preposition in common English brings frequent adoption in legal English. As a serious formal frozen style language, another special feature of legal English lexicon is the frequent adoption of prepositions and prepositional phrases which perform an indispensable and active effect.

  • Adoption of Prepositions

English has a far more complex preposition system as compared with Chinese. As a result, though seemingly trivial, preposition has so great impacts that translator cannot ignore it. On the other hand, preposition cannot stand by itself. It needs to be together with a noun or noun phrase in order to form a prepositional phrase. The function of prepositions is to indicate identity of doer, location, direction, object, instrument, method, purpose, and even motivation of action. There are many frequently used prepositions such as against, about, beyond, before, but, by, considering, failing, on, save, upon, wanting, etc.

EX.:

Article 18: Where a carrier issues a document other than a bill of lading to evidence the receipt of the goods to be carried, such a document is prima facie evidence of the conclusion of the contract of carriage by sea and the taking over by the carrier of the goods as therein described. (Hamburg Rules)

In this 52 words paragraph, there are more than ten prepositions. It is a good example for the frequent use of prepositions in legal English.

  • Adoption of Prepositional Phrases

Compared with preposition, prepositional phrase is used more frequently in legal English documents. There are many prepositional phrases used frequently such as at one’s request, as per, as well as, by and on behalf of, by the right of representation, due to, except far/ that, in accordance with, in terms of, in testimony whereof, out of, over and above, owing to, pursuant to, regardless of, upon termination of the trust, with the exception of that, etc.

From the perspective of word formation, these prepositional phrases are usually formed in pattern of “preposition + noun + preposition (P-N-P). Legal draftsmen prefer to use formal prepositional phrase than to choose single preposition in legal English documents. For example, legal draftsmen would use “for the purpose 矿 instead of ‘加choose “in accordance witJi” or “in pursuance of instead of “unde/, adopt “by virtue of instead of “by”, and accept “with regard to” instead of “abouf\ Most of legal English staff believe that adoption of single preposition is short of preciseness and might cause unnecessary dissensions.

  • Relevant Lawsuits in History

As is already known, severity and accuracy is the soul of legal language. Thus frequent adoption of preposition and prepositional phrase will certainly face the trial to see whether they can keep legal English precise.

Among the cases of dissension in common law countries, there are many lawsuits caused by different comprehensions toward the same legal English writ. Different comprehensions are mainly caused by incorrect usages of words, lack of preciseness, and dissented interpretations of prepositions.

Chen and Luo (2003: 91) mentioned a law case. Once in Louisiana State in U.S.A, there was a lawsuit caused by different comprehensions of the meaning of The original sentence in document is “The Charter required that directors shall be elected on a vote of the stockholders representing less than two/thirds of outstanding capital stock of the corporationy The comprehension towards this sentence of Party A is that 66A person can not be elected as the director of this corporation until he receives a vote of two/thirds of the stockholdersHowever the comprehension of Party B is that ‘’During the electing conference of directors, two/thirds of the stockholders have to present themselvesy Which one was correct? Later the standpoint of Party B got the support of jury because that lawyer pointed out if the comprehension of Party A had been correct, the preposition should have changed into

There are many similar count cases caused by different comprehensions towards the same legal sentence. The following lawsuit (李文阳,1994: 13〜16) is another example. Once in Arkansas State in U.S.A., there happened a court case caused by the dissension of inheritance. This testament was “The remainders of the testator’s property should be divided equally between all of our nephews and nieces on my wife’s side and my niece There were still twenty-two nephews and nieces on the side of testator9 s wife. Whether should the property be divided equally by all of the nephews and nieces of the testator and his wife, or be divided equally into two parts? The judge took the preposition “‘between9 into account. At last the judge sentenced that owing to the preposition “between“ the property should be divided equally into two parts and then each part of property should be divided again by the nephews and nieces from each side. It is because that if the testator wanted the property divided equally by all of nephews and nieces, he should use ”among” instead of “between.

The word “”between” is usually used to talk about two or a few people or things while ^among” is used to talk about a group of at least three people or things together. This example speaks volumes for the importance of using correct prepositions and prepositional phrases in legal English documents.

  • Supplement of Legal English Lexicon

Language develops along with social development. Changes of society will certainly result in changes of language. And also changes of language will firstly reflect in lexicology.

In fact, professionalism and stability of language cannot be absolute. The main trend of language is to be kept changing by social development. Useless outdated word will certainly be washed out of legal lexicon. Now in modern legal English lexicon, it is hard to find the outdated terms which belongs to feudalistic legal system. For example, terms such as ”demesnes”, and “”fee tair are not incorporated in modem legal English documents any longer. With the development of society, legal English lexical range is kept being enlarged.

  • Utilization of Suffix

As a “formal style“ language, legal English is characteristic in the purified and terse usages of terms. To some extent, one could use the four-character-Chinese-term “惜墨如金”to describe legal language. The extensive utilization of affix and participle makes legal sentences condensed and compact. In the 21st century, legal language has to face the challenge of popularization. More and more jurisconsults and linguists positively inspire and energize the reform of legal languages in order to make it be easily comprehended and utilized by more people.

In order to emphasize the receiver of an action, a useful word formation, i.e., adding the suffix “-ee” after a verb to make this verb nominalized, is used frequently in modern legal English. For example, the terms such as “escapee” “acquitted’ and “arrestee^ not only belong to neologies but also can be more easily understood by ordinary readers. During exploration and summarization of legal English lexical characteristics, the author notices that there are many words, which indicate the parties concerned in the suit, are formed by adding suffix. And furthermore, these terms usually appear in pairs. For example, “The offerer’s actual stale of mind is irrelevant, what is impotent is whether the offeree is justified in believing that an offer was made,” Similar examples can be found easily in legal English writs, such as the term ^mortgagor and mortgagee”, “pledgor and pledgee”endorser and endorsee”, “insurer and insured’accuser and accused”, and “promisor and promise”.

Utilization of suffix is of great importance in legal English. It can substitute lengthy attributive clauses, make legal sentences tidy and compact, and incarnate preciseness of legal English.

  • Utilization of Neology

In today’s world, science and technology develop rapidly, and people’s thoughts and communication become increased. All of these changes must reflect in languages such as the emergence of neology in legal English.

More and more new terms appear in legal English lexicon to replace the former “old” terms. For example,力于 the prosecution can prove that Tom lied about committing the crime, he could then be prosecuted for perjuryThe definition of perjury” is “the criminal offense of making false statement under oath, ie, the crime of telling a lie after promising to tell the truth in a court o law‘ (Black’s, 1999) Another example: “The gravamen of the complaint is that Brice seriously hurt someoney According to the dictionary, the term “gravamen” means that “”the essence of a complaint, charge, causes of actiony (Black’s, 1999)

The above examples incarnate emergence and utilization of neology in legal English, and also illuminate that development of society will affect development of language.

  • Borrowed Terms of Art from other Professions

With advancement of human society, development of economy and technology, and affluence of social life, more and more affairs in daily life need to be adjusted by legal laws. The internal compartmentalization of legal system is more and more consummate. With a broad adjusting range, legal law has come down to almost every aspect of human life. At the present time, legal English becomes a subject with voluminous system, multitudinous categories and rigorous configuration. Owing to the continuous development, legal English will certainly need a great deal of technical terms from other professions such as politics, science and technology, culture and art, etc. For example, if a legal English document is concerned with financial business, in the legal writ there must be a great amount of commercial words such as “expiration, “extra dividend”, rates of exchange”, “revolving fund’, “business capital’, etc.

Nowadays some new legal subjects emerge as times require. Therefore, a great amount of technical terms in correlative domains streams into legal English lexicon. These terms are taken from many subjects. Many of them have been greatly accepted by legal staff and also have occupied their own stable position. For example, ”sadism” is taken from psychology, “abortion^ from physic, “artistic work“ from art, “continental shelf” from geography, “heredity“ from biology, “ratio” from mathematics, “incest’ from sociology, “”monogamy^ from demography, “barrie/’ from economics, “average^ from transportation, “claims“ from external trade, and “life insurance1 from insurance.

The above examples show that the borrowed technical terms have a wide source. However, absolutization to this concept cannot be made—what kind of terms can become legal terms, and what cannot. But we can say without hesitation that with the extension of contents adjusted by legal laws, and with the traditional methods of borrowed terms, there must be a trend in legal English to take more and more technical terms from other professions.

 

ChapterIV Translation of Legal English

  • Significance of Legal English Translation

With the advancement of Opening-up Project, gradual consummation of socialist market economy, and Chinese entrance into the WTO, a great many domestic enterprises have begun to take part in international competition. At the same time, China is accelerating the consummating process of legal system. Thus study, research, and translation of developed countries9 mature legal systems and legal codes will certainly have a great effect on the Chinese battle effectiveness in international competition.

On the other hand, the progress achieved in foreign trade and the Chinese entrance into the WTO make the Chinese-English legal translation more and more imminent. Foreign countries and international organizations want to know more about the Chinese legal law. Therefore in order to make the world better comprehend evolution, actuality and future of Chinese legal system and know more about Chinese legal policies and rules, to attract more investment, and to promote Chinese economic development, legal English translation is attracting more and more attention. Legal translators have the responsibility to start from the linguistic characteristics, summarize the language regularity, and utilize the suitable translating methods in order to elevate translating level of the legal documents. For the sake of quality improvement of translated writs, the legal translators should focus on the peculiar legal style so that more and more players of international competition could have a better comprehension of the relevant legal documents.

  • Criteria of Legal English Translation

Translation is a cross-languages communicating and transmitting activity. The reason for its existence is the commonness existing in the impersonal material world which is described by different national languages. The fact, law is a social phenomenon shared by human beings, brings legal translation into being.

For many years, people have regarded the three-character guide: “‘Faithfulness, Smoothness and Elegance” which was presented by the famous Chinese writer and translator Yan Fu as the criteria to check the quality of translation. Legal English, however, belongs to the realm of instrumental language. Thus legal translation has to carry out the criteria of “Accuracy, Compact and Formality^^ which can be regarded as the embodiment of Yan Fu’s three-character guide: “‘Faithfulness, Smoothness and Elegance”. Besides these criteria, due to the particular characteristics, legal English translation has two specific criteria.

  • Insisting on the requirement of “preciseness and severity^^.

“Preciseness“ means that legal concepts should be understood and expressed precisely and correctly. This principle requires legal translators to stick by the original text and to adopt legal terms accurately. Due to the reason that translation is different from creation, translators have less flexibility; especially legal translators. 6tSeverity^^ means that translators should be serious and rigid. Legal translators should avoid by all means changing the writing structure or making random additions and deletions towards the original text. It is due to the fact that legal law or provisions describe not only the behavior restriction towards judicatory object but also the obligations and the rights between parties concerned. Even a trivial discrepancy in the comprehension of documents might cause a serious result.

Legal English translators usually adopt literal translation. They try their best to maintain original expression modes including word adoption, sentence structure and rhetoric skills. If translators failed using literal translation, they would choose free translation, i.e., to try to express the main ideas of the original text. And also as the situation requires, translators would use the method of annotation to make necessary commentary of the original text.

  • Knowing well about the procedures of legal activities.

English lexicon is abundant in meanings. Even the same word can have different meanings in different registers. Legal translators should understand fully the specific meaning of the word according to the concrete legal concept so that translation could express the same or at least a close concept to the original text. Translators should

“信、达、雅” avoid interpreting without real understanding otherwise mistakes would occur. Due to the formal and serious legal lexical adoption, legal translators should not only have well-knit Chinese and English knowledge but also have sufficient relevant legal knowledge. Translators should also grasp lexical characteristics of legal language so that translation could be professional, formal and precise as well.

It can be seen that comprehension and mastery of legal English lexical characteristics is the key point for the study and translation of legal English, and the observation and summary of the regularity of legal lexicon is a good way to improve the quality of translation.

  • Difficulties in Legal English Translation

The reason for the existence of translating difficulties is that there exist dissimilarities of different nations in the impersonal material world. Legal translation is not just a simple kind of bilingual switch. The main difficulties in legal English translation come from the difference of cultural background.

Countries9 developments in the world are extremely lopsided. The difference in economy, politics and culture makes different countries, legal laws dissimilar greatly in vocabulary, legal principles and legal concepts. The great dissimilarities in cultural background frustrate completely consistent legal laws in the whole world.

For example, there is a strong Christian cultural background in common law countries. The influence of Christianity is manifested obviously during the trial in court. Take the following oath for example—‘God is the witness, I swear that everything here I say is  ” If the translator is not a Christian, he would have

difficulty to feel the inner restriction for Christian in this statement.

In western society of the present age, there exist two main legal systems——the Roman law system and the common law system.

Roman law system is a generic name for the legal laws based on Roman law. The laws in Germany, France and Japan are the particular representatives. It is worthy to be mentioned that the legal law of Old China, during the controlling period of Kuomintang, belonged to Roman law system because the law at that time consulted mainly the laws in Japan and Germany. Due to the inheritability of legal law, it is hard for Chinese laws to avoid the trace of Roman law.

The common law system, in the same way, is a generic name for legal laws based on the common law of Britain. Besides Britain (excepting Scotland) and U.S.A., the countries or regions, which were once the colonies of Britain such as India and Hong Kong, have a legal law based on the common law.

English speaking countries such as Britain and U.S.A, belong to common law system. The judiciaries are based on case law, i.e., the law base on judicial decision and precedent rather than on statutes. So legal education and judicatory practice have a close connection with the prevenient cases or judicial decisions even though the prevenient cases happened hundreds of years ago. The consultations from judicial decisions for hundreds of years make legal English recondite. Therefore native English people’s comprehension of the verdict written in English, to some extent, is like modem Chinese people’s understanding of the ancient Chinese language. It goes without saying that translation of legal English is not an easy task.

Legal English translation is not just simple bilingual translation, i.e., legal English translators should not only know well about relevant legal knowledge but also have adequate information of legal culture. It is due to the reason that scarcity of relevant legal cultural information could cause incomplete or even incorrect comprehension of the original text, and then the quality of translation would be greatly affected.

For instance, Song Lei (1999: 48) points out that the titles of lawsuits differ greatly in different countries. Concerning with the Chinese title for lawsuits, the plaintiff’s name is always placed ahead of the defendant’s name such as 66A B , Here “A” is the plaintiff, and “B” is the defendant. In the West, however, it is not completely the same. For example, in the Supreme Court of Canada, the defendant’s name is usually ahead placed such as 66A V B”. Here 66A” is the defendant while “5” is the plaintiff. The correct translation for this title should be 66B N ,In legal English translation, translators should take different cultural background into account otherwise readers9 misapprehension would be arisen.

Therefore legal English translation is much more complex and more laborious than common English translation. Besides the well-knit bilingual knowledge, legal translators should not only have enough knowledge about Latin and French, but also have comprehension of legal culture. During legal English translation, if the translators think much of the cultural difference between English language and Chinese language, and also have enough legal knowledge, they could translate legal documents more accurately and effectively. With the Chinese entrance into the WTO, legal cultural contacts between China and other foreign countries will certainly become more frequent, and legal translation will surely play a more and more important role.

 

Chapter V Influence on Legal English Translation

Translation of legal documents is the most precise and difficult in the translating realm. The particular characteristics of legal English lexicon have great influence on legal English translation. In this chapter, legal English translation refers to both English-Chinese and also Chinese-English translation. Hereinafter, the main lexical influence on legal English will be discussed.

  • Translation of “shair

As is pointed out in Chapter 3.3.2, usage of modal verbs is one of the extraordinary legal English lexical characteristics. This characteristic must influence legal English translation. The basic function of legal language is to standardize people’s behavior. One of the standardizations of legal English is embodied through a set of comparative and immovable expressing patterns. Legal English working staff prefers to use modal verbs such as “shall”, “may”, “must”, “may not (shall not,and “should’ to assist imposition of obligations and conferment of rights. Among them, “shair is used the most frequently. In this chapter, the author discusses the translation of “shall”.

  • Influence on Treatment with “shall”

In Chapter 3.3.2, the major function of has been mentioned, that is, to impose an obligation in legal English. Expressing a mandatory mood, the word “shair in legal English, to some extent, serves as in common English. And “shall nof’ serves as “can not” or “must not”. Consequently, the word “shall“ is often translated into ‘ “应当、必须,;“shall not” is translated into 不得,Legal English translators should give more attention to.

EX.:

Article 180 The reward shall be fixed with a view to encouraging salvage operations, taking into full account the following criteria:

  • The reward shall not exceed the value of the ship and other property

salved.(《中华人民共和国海商法》English Version)

Chinese version:

第一百八十条:确定救助报酬,应当体现对救助作业的鼓励,并综合考虑下列 各项因素:

)……救助报酬不得超过船舶和其他财产的获救价值。(《中华人民共和 国海商法》)

In the same way, when one carries through Chinese-English translation of the terms such as “应应该必须 不可,which indicate imposition of obligations, he should use “shair.

EX.:

第四十七条:承运人应在开航前和开航当时克尽职责使船舶适航。(《中华 人民共和国海商法》)

English version:

Article 47: The carrier shall, before and at the beginning of the voyage, exercise due diligence to make the ship seaworthy.(《中华人民共和国海商法》English Version)

More examples can be readily found in the documents with both English and Chinese version. However, during the translation of English legal writs, translators should not translate every “shal into 应当,and every “shall not” into 不得‘. Taking context into account serves greatly in giving an appropriate translation. Hu, Wang and Shen (胡庚申,王春晖,& 申云桢,2002: 374) present an example:

EX.:

The Seller shall not be held liable for the delay in shipment or non – delivery of the goods under the Contract in consequence of Force Majeure, which might occur during the process of manufacturing or in the course of loading or transit. The Seller shall inform the buyer promptly of the occurrence mentioned above and within fourteen days thereafter, the Seller shall send by airmail to the buyer for their acceptance a certificate of the accident issued by the Competent Government Authorities where the accident occur as evidence thereof. In such circumstances, the Seller, however, is still under the obligation to take all necessary measures to hasten the delivery of the goods. In case the accident lasts for more than ten weeks, the buyer shall have the right to cancel the Contract.

In this provision about “Force Majeure,\ four ones of i6shair are involved. One can readily find that only the second and the third one should be rendered into “宓, and the rest two should not. It is easy to understand why the second and the third “shair should be translated intobecause they are used to impose obligations on the Seller. Why cannot translate the rest two into < “应当,or “必须,? The reason is that they are expressing futurity here rather than imposing obligations.

It is obvious that the modal auxiliary is frequently used in legal English to impose obligations, while sometimes “shair keeps the original function to express futurity.

  • Translation Errors with “shall”

More attention and carefulness should be given to the translation of “shall’ because there are still a couple of incorrect translations about “shair in legal documents. The following mistakes, caused by the incorrect usage of are made by colleagues of the author.

EX.:

a) 10^2:鼓励外国合营者将可汇出的外汇存入中国银行。(《中华人民 共和国中外合资经营企业法》)

If one translated the above sentence into“ A foreign participant shall receive encouragements from depositing in the Bank of China any part of the foreign exchange, which he is entitled to remit abroad.”, the translation would be wrong. The modal verb “shall’ is used to assist imposition of obligation that someone must act. Thus according to the connotation of translated version, foreign participant must accept encouragement, otherwise he violates law because he fails to fulfill his obligation. Translator should use “be encouraged in the English version of this sentence.

b)如果乙方有违反本合同的行为,……

It is incorrect to translate the above sentence into “If Party B shall commit any breach of this contract,  Legal draftsmen ought to avoid the occurrence of

“shall” in the “”if” clause. So we should change “shall commit into “commits”.

C)买方有权对卖方提出索赔。

If this sentence was translated into “The Buyer shall have the right to lodge claim s against the Selle/’, English readers would paraphrase it into “The Buyer is compelled to have the right to lodge claim s against the Selle.In fact ‘”有权signifies power, right or privilege that parties concerned have the liberty to enjoy. So the suitable translation for 有权,should be “have the right” or “be lawfully in a position to have the righf\

Frequently used in legal English documents, modal verbs have become one lexical characteristic. It is pivotal for legal translators to find appropriate and suitable translation for the sentences involved “shall. In this way, ambiguity can be avoided and authority of legal language can be well incarnated.

  • Translation of Juxtaposition of Synonyms or Near-synonyms

As has been discussed in Chapter 3.2, juxtaposition of synonyms or near-synonyms is a common phenomenon in legal English documents. It is due to the historical reason and the result of searching accuracy in legal writing and speaking.

Synonyms or near- synonyms have some certain tiny differences in expressing degree or utilizing range. Coordinating them together could make the semantic meaning more integrated and accurate. For example, in the phrase “heirs and devisees^, the term “heik generally refers to the person who inherits or is entitled by law (or by the terms of a will) to inherit the estate of another. While the term “devisee“ refers to the person to whom a devise is made. People connect these two synonyms with “and’ and use them together to complement each other. Thus legal dissension can be reduced or avoided.

When translator carries out the translation of synonyms or near-synonyms juxtaposition, he has to take the following several points into account:

  • Make it clear whether the synonyms are “complete-synonyms” or “partial- synonyms”.

As is already known, there are rare “complete-synonyms”. Hence the author use “complete-synonyms“ to refer to the pairs of synonyms whose differences are not very obvious. For example: fraud and deceif \ “”claim or allegation, ^furnish and provide”, and “fulfill or perform”.

In the same way, “partial-synonyms“ refer to the ones with the same part of speech and close meaning, or even opposite meaning. Phrases in this case usually describe different or even opposite aspects of a certain notion. For instance: ^alteration, modification of substitution^, “complete and final understanding19, “”purchase or seW\ and “rented or loaned”.

  • If synonyms are “complete-synonyms”, legal translators can take the combining way instead of repeating their respective meanings. They should search an appropriate single Chinese word to summarize the synonyms.

For instance: the term “fair and equitable belongs to “complete-synonyms”. One can use a single Chinese term 合理的,cover them.

  • If synonyms are 6“partial- synonyms99, translators need to find the nuance between “partial-synonyms“ and spare no effort to express them out with the proper corresponding Chinese terms.

For instance: the term “rectified, amended or modified”. Here “rectified’, “amended” and “modified” are used together. They complement each other and widen the range of meaning so that they are generally rendered into corresponding Chinese terms 校正、修改、修正,

  • The differences, in culture and in legal systems, between English speaking countries and China can cause difficulties in translation.

English is not Chinese people’s native language, so it is difficult to accurately grasp the tiny differences between English synonyms or near-synonyms. Furthermore, Chinese legal system is different from common law system. Some terms in legal English do not have counterparts in Chinese language. Therefore, differences in culture and in legal system make translation from English into Chinese a tough job. Sometimes it is hard to find an appropriate Chinese term for an English term. Take the term “tax, levy, impost, duty, or other charge” for example. The synonyms “levy”, “impost’, “duty”, and “charge“ are different and they do have some nuances which can not be easily expressed in a couple of Chinese words. And also there are no counterparts in Chinese tax law. The term 各种税捐,can be the Chinese translation for “tax, levy, impost, duty, or other charge” even though these two expressions mean two rather different concepts in the legal realm. It is extremely difficult for translators to choose an exact complete counterpart in a specific context, so legal translators should try their best to find a close and condensed term.

  • Chinese language focus mainly on parataxis, while English language is concerned with hypotaxis.

Due to this fact, it is evident that many legal Chinese items, which expressed in even one single term, have to be translated into English synonyms or near-synonyms juxtaposition. For instance:职工is “staff and workers”,规章,is “rules and regulations”,66 is “children and “无效’is “null and void\ and 职责

“duties and responsibilities”.

Legal English synonyms or near-synonyms juxtapositions indicate search for accuracy, and also incarnate complexity of legal language. So when conducting English-Chinese translation with juxtaposition of synonyms or near-synonyms, if translator meets some Chinese terms with blurry meanings, he should spare no effort to break through Chinese thinking mode and speak out the real meaning of Chinese legal term.

  • Legal translators should always be careful in choosing words and expressions, and should try to avoid mechanical practice of word-to-word translation.

Word-to-word translation is easier, while it may cause opposite result to what people expect. The main criterion of legal documents translation is the equivalence of content instead of the equivalence of modality. Therefore, if time permitted, legal English translators should make the translating draft checked and approved by legal working staff. For the sake that legal working staff works in legal atmosphere, they must have adequate knowledge in mind about legal profession and features of legal English, i.e., they can help the translators select an appropriate word in the translation. 5) Most phrases in this structure have fixed meanings and usages, and they cannot be
taken apart from each other.

Usually the translated terms for some strings of synonyms or near-synonyms are established and fixed. It is beneficial in legal English translation to be familiar with their existent Chinese counterparts.

Table 3:

Common Juxtapositions of Synonyms or Near-synonyms

Legal English TermsTranslated Chinese Terms
acknowledge and confess(供认)
act and deed(有约束力的契约)
alter and change(变更)
breaking and entering(强行闯入)
buy or purchase(购买)
cease and desist order(禁令)
claim or allegation(主张)
complete and final understanding(全部和最终的理解)
customs fees and duties(关税)
damages and losses(损害和灭失)
decree or order(法令)
expressed or implied(明示或暗示)
fit and proper(适当的)
fixtures and fittings(附属物)
fraud and deceit(欺骗)
furnish and provide(供给)
fulfill or perform(履行)
goods and chattels(动产;私人动产)
last will and testament(遗嘱)
minor or child or infant(未成年人)
own or possess(拥有)
privileges and immunities(外交特权和豁免)
protocols and certifications(议定书和证明书)
rescind or abrogate(取消)
responsibility and liability(责任)
rights and interests(权益)
sign and issue(签发)
use, misuse or abuse(使用、误用或滥用)

 

5.3 Treatment with Nouns in Singular or Plural Form

Treatment with nouns in singular or plural form is also essential in legal translation. It is well known that Chinese nouns, unlike English nouns, usually do not have obvious singular and plural forms. Thus when legal translators carry out Chinese-English legal translation, they have got to consider carefully whether this Chinese noun refers to one single thing or not.

  • In legal Chinese writs, terms such as 本合同“”本法律“”本规定“”本条“”办法‘J本细贝/’and 本协议cq be easily noticed. Are they merely translated into “this contract, “”this law” or “this regulation”? Does Provision for the Registration of Marriage Between Chinese Citizens and Foreigners^ serve as the English title for 《中国公民同外国人办理婚姻登记的规定》”?

Obviously, the above translations are incorrect. In fact, western people are used to regard every single rule as one regulation or provision, and the whole package of rules as regulations or provisions. In this way, the correct translation for ” (f中国公民 同外国人办理婚姻登记的规定》should be “Provisions for the Registration of Marriage Between Chinese Citizens and Foreigners”. Similarly, when carrying through the translation of terms, translator should think carefully whether this word refers to the whole or the partial. If the word emphasizes rules as a whole, singular form should be used. Otherwise plural form should be adopted. Thus correct translations for “本合同“”本协议,and “本法律’should be “this contract’, “this agreement and ‘”this law”; translations for “本办法“”本规定“”本条例,and 本名田贝『should be “the present measures^, “”the present regulations^, “”the present provisions” and “the present wles”(or “these measured, “”these regulations”, “”these provisions^ and “”these rules”).

  • How to translate this sentence—“第5条,外国合营者如果有意以落后的技 术和设备进行欺骗,造成损失的,应赔偿损失。《中华人民共和国中外合资经营 企业法》)?

If translator rendered this sentence into ^If the foreign joint venturer causes losses by deception through the intentional use of backward technology and equipment, it shall pay compensation for the losses”, the meaning of whole sentence got warped. According to original meaning of the Chinese sentence, one of the preconditions for compensation is 造成损失doesn’t clearly mention this ‘”损失is one loss or many losses. Dissention would appear if term 损失was simply translated into “the losses”. Therefore, term “夜关’should be translated into “loss or losses”.

  • Translation of the term 公司法,needs to take noun’s singular form and plural form into account.

Song Lei (1997:47) suggests that if the term 公司法,generally refers to all the legal writs about regulations, provisions and rules of company, this term should be translated into “Corporation Law” or “Corporate Lav\^ in the North of America, and “Company law” in Britain. If the term 公司法 refers to certain particular regulations, it needs to be translated in plural form. For example,《公司法》(1985 version) of Britain is “‘Companies Act of 1985”, and《加拿大商事公司法和规则》 (1997 version) is 66 Canada Business Corporations Act and Regulations 1997\ 5.4 Translation of Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases

The author has discussed the special legal usage of prepositions and prepositional phrases in Chapter 3.7. The frequent adoption of prepositions and prepositional phrases do have inevitable influence on legal English translation. In fact, some prepositions cannot find suitable corresponding translated terms. Sometimes the most common corresponding preposition cannot accurately express the meaning of original text. Due to the fact that the meaning of term can be determined by context, translators have to take context into account when translating prepositions or prepositional phrases; otherwise translation might lose accuracy. For example, many English prepositional phrases can be the translated term of 根据such as “in the light of \ “in accordance with9‘, “according tS,「on the basis of”pursuant to) \ “in conformity “under,\ and “in terms of \ As a result, translators should consider the context and choose the most appropriate and accurate one from them. There are some similarities in the usage of preposition in English language and also Chinese language. During the practice of legal English translation, translators have found a knack for translating some prepositions or prepositional phrases.

  • Preposition means 参考,and 批准,

In legal English, the prepositional phrase “for + noun“ is usually translated into 参考,and 批准」and vice versa.

EX.:

转让须报原审批机关审批。

Suggested Version:

The assignment shall be submitted to the original Approval Authority for examination and approval.

  • Preposition often means 关于‘.

«关于is often used in legal Chinese titles to educe the concerning topic while is often used in English titles. Hence the preposition is translated into « 产,and vice versa.

EX.:

a)《关于加强和完善.…公司办事监督管理的通知》

Suggested Version:

Circular on the Strengthening and Improvement of Supervision and Administration of. Companies

b)《..…暂行办法》

Suggested Version:

The Interim Provisions on

In the first example, there is the term 关于,.It should be translated into In the second one, the term “关干’is implied. Therefore, should be added into the English title.

  • The structure “卬noun””is used to mean ” 就,and “…后

EX.:

第一百九十七条:公司清算结束后,清算组应当制作清算报告。(《中华人民 共和国公司法》)

Suggested Version:

Article 197: Upon completion of the liquidation of the Company, the liquidation committee shall submit a final liquidation report.

  • Translating ways for some frequently used prepositions.
  • Preposition ^againsf”is usually translated into 违反,抵触冲突丫, or 对抗,

EX.:

No one should offend against the law.

Suggested Version:

人人都不应该触犯法律。

EX.:

The party against whom the action is brought is known as the defendant.

Suggested Version:

被提起诉讼的一方称为被告。

  • Preposition “by” can be translated into 依照“”根据,or“按照,

EX.:

第二条:中国政府依法保护外国合营者……在合营企业的投资。(《中华人民共 和国中外合资经营企业法》)

Suggested Version:

Article 2: The Chinese Government protects, by the legislation in force, the resources invested by a foreign participant in a joint venture.

(3)Preposition “unde can be rendered into 依据/根据的规定“”规定 广,or 受制于

EX.:

Article 83: A buyer who has lost the right to declare the contract avoided or to require the seller to deliver substitute goods in accordance with article 82 retains all other remedies under the contract and this Convention. (The UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG),)

Suggested Version:

第八十三条:买方虽然依第八十二条规定丧失宣告合同无效或要求卖方交付 替代货物的权利,但是根据合同和本公约规定,他仍保有采取一切其它补救办法 的权利。

5.5 Keep Translated Terms Consistent

The law of identity is of great importance to Chinese-English legal translation.

With the economic development of China, more and more importance is attached to legal Chinese translation which plays an important role in the legal cultural exchange. Translation of legal documents is different from translation of literature. There are not abundant translating techniques in the legal realm. When legal translators carry through Chinese-English legal translation, there is one principle in which translators have to persist——to keep the translated legal terms consistent. The translated term should be kept fixed and consistent once it was chosen as the English legal term for the first time. No matter how many times the translated term is repeated in the translation, legal translators should spare no effort to keep the term consistent as long as this term is correct and suitable.

However in China, many legal translators are not professional translators of legal documents. They are experienced in the long-term translation of literature. When they prosecute legal translation, they can not help utilizing the techniques which are used in literature translation. They are fond of using different ways to translate the same Chinese legal term into English, especially in the translation of economy provisions. As a result, misapprehension appears. It is due to the reason that every word in the synonymic groups has its own individual semantic and stylistic difference. Thus choosing different expressing ways to indicate the same term certainly will put more difficulties towards readers. Some legal translators worry that if they mention the same legal concept with one term over and over again, the translation would look dull and inanimate. So they rack their brains to find different terms to indicate the same legal concept. It turns out that accuracy of legal language would be destroyed. The translated terms in the following examples are not unified or consistent.

EX.:

1) 土地使用权;land- use right, land- use rights .land use rights fthe right to use land (《上海浦东新区土地使用规定》English Version)

2)优惠待遇:preferential policy, preferential treatment (《宁波经济技术开发区投 资指南》English Version)

  • 资企业,, foreign-funded enterprises, foreign-invested enterprises; joint ventures with Chinese and foreign investment , joint ventures using Chinese and foreign investment (《中华人民共和国中外合资经营企业法实施条例》English Version)

From the above examples, it can be noticed that the same legal concept is given several translated terms even in the same legal documents. In this way, it would be easy to cause the confusion toward readers on the comprehension of legal concept, and to bring the hidden trouble to foreign related legal cases in the future. For example, the two translated versions of the term 优惠待遇,mean two completely different legal concepts. If a legal translator was asked to translate these two English versions of 优惠待遇 back into Chinese, perhaps he would give two different Chinese terms.

However giving different translated terms toward one title of the same legal document can cause trouble much more easily. Legal document possesses the authority of law. When legal translators carry through documents translation, they have to adhere completely to the letters of law. This kind of legal document is called “Black letter If one legal document has several English translated terms, foreign investors would mistake it for several different legal documents. As a result, foreign investors would have a lot of unnecessary difficulties in comprehending the

“需要严格按字面意义翻译的法律条文”

Chinese laws and would feel confused when abiding by the Chinese provisions. And once legal dissension occurs, the two parties in the lawsuit would, in all probability, take the ambiguity caused by the variance of translated terms as the excuse in order to escape from the legal punishment.

Any trivial mistake or defect might result in catastrophic aftermath. Therefore, the principle of keeping the translated terms consistent is not a bagatelle. It can show the legal authority of foreign related law in China, and incarnate the level of China’s legal Chinese-English translation.

5.6 Innovation of Coinage in Legal Language

Cultural differences have caused the lack of corresponding relations between different nations9 lexicons. How to find a suitable translated term is one of the essential points in legal translation. Under most circumstances, translators would adopt transliterating way to denote the things existent in one culture while absent in another. For example, ^sofa^ is translated into “沙发”忒into “TaijF, and “coca -cola” into ” 可口 可乐,

However transliterating method has great restrictions. It can be applied to the translation of some common words, especially in legal translation.

In Roman law system, the term “legal person is translated into “漆人Actually when “法人”appeared for the first time in China, system of juridical person hadn’t been founded in China. Therefore, the term “港yt” is regarded as a successful coinage. Of course, after a coinage was born, people need time to accept it. A great amount of explaining work needs to be done. The legal translators in the early time offered great contributions so that a great number of coinages could become familiar for us such as “arbitration, “impeachmenf, iisolicitor,\ “hearing, etc. In fact, all these terms are the things that were absent in China in the past.

  • Innovation of Coinage in E-C Legal Translation
  • Try to find the Chinese legal technical term which is corresponding or near-corresponding of the target English term.

Legal terms in Chinese and in English have the individual given legal meanings and effects. They cannot be translated at random. In order to achieve corresponding legal effect, translators should search the Chinese legal technical term which is corresponding or near-corresponding of the target English term so that ambiguity and explaining disputation could be avoided. For example, Zhu D.C. (2002: 65) points out that the term ^damages” should be translated into 损害赔偿金、韵”instead of “救 济、.

  • Translating strategy for words which lack corresponding Chinese terms.

Owing to different legal systems, some legal concepts, principles, and provisions in common law system are completely absent in China’s legal system. It is hard to find the perfect suitable corresponding terms in Chinese. In this case, translators may as well firstly comprehend the English terms correctly and then translate these terms into non-legal terms of art, i.e., translators should use neutral terms and add some necessary explanation. Otherwise the new translated terms might be mixed up with the existent Chinese legal concepts. For example, Zhu D. C. (2002: 66) indicates that the term “affidavif sometimes is translated into ”书证,书面陈述while the appropriate translated Chinese term should be 宣誓陈述)(声明书,

  • Innovation of Coinage in C-E Legal Translation

To some extent, translation is a kind of creating labor. In China’s foreign related legal rules, there are a great amount of Chinese characterized legal concepts and terms. In order to successfully translate these Chinese terms into English, translators need to utilize creativity and imagination.

There are mainly two kinds of current innovation in Chinese-English legal translation:

  • Reconstructing method

Reconstructing method means that in Chinese-English legal translation, if it is difficult to find a suitable corresponding legal English term, the analogous English structure can be imitated and reconstructed in order to create an English legal term which is close to the Chinese legal term. For example, “illegal and criminal activities'” is created to be the translation of 违法犯罪活动,Although it is not accustomed to put “illegal’ and “criminal’ together before the term “activitiesn. readers could better understand this legal Chinese term without difficulty. The term 纳税凭证can be rendered into “tax payment certificate. In English, there is a term—payment receipt’ which is not the same as the Chinese term 纳税凭证, So legal translators use “certificate“ to substitute “receipt’ and create the phrase “tax payment certificate”. In the same 鹏处政企分开can be translated into “separate government functions from business management.

Owing to reconstructing method, legal translators could basically translate the connotations of Chinese legal terms so that English readers could have a better comprehension of Chinese laws.

  • Inventing method

In Chinese language, there are many terms and concepts specialized by Chinese social, economical and cultural background. It is hard to find the same or similar expressions in English language. Consequently, legal translators have to choose common English words when creatively translating Chinese characterized terms.

Generally speaking, inventing method needs to utilize English structures which are more complex and which have more words than the original Chinese terms so that English readers could have less difficulty to basically understand Chinese laws. If an invented coinage puzzled English readers and made the original Chinese text unintelligible, this coinage should be regarded as a failed translation. Usually it is not an easy job to create a legal coinage using inventing method. Legal translators have to weigh their word cautiously, otherwise ambiguity may occur. However, legal translators still use this method when they cannot find a close translated term especially in the economy realm. For example,开放搞活can be translated into “allow flexibility to acquire vigof\ When a translator comprehends the implications of Chinese terms, a coinage can be more easily invented. For example,“勿尢放〃 can be invented into “keep a good control of large enterprises while allowing small enterprises to develop in their own vray”.

In this chapter, the author discusses the main strategies of innovating coinages in legal language. When legal translators carry through the innovation of legal coinages, they have got to pay more attention to not only connotation but also denotation of the terms. The aim of innovating coinages is to succeed in expressing basic meaning of the original text so that readers could better understand the rules in different legal systems.

 

ChapterVI Conclusion

With the development of the economy and the advancement of society, there are more and more co-operations between China and other countries in the world. The intimate contacts with international economy bring requirements for the Chinese people to know more about the legal law of the other countries. At the same time, the foreign investors who carry through business with China have a strong desire to comprehend Chinese law better. Thus the study and translation of legal writs are of great importance. From the discussion in the former chapters, we can see clearly that the comprehension and mastery of lexical characteristics of legal English is the basic requirement of correct utilization of legal English, the basic way to improve the quality of legal translation, and the important method for China to take part in the international business and legal activities. In short, the mastery of the lexical characteristics and translating techniques of legal English is instructive for the study and translation of legal documents, and also can help us get twice the result with half the effort in legal study and research. In this thesis, the author, based on the existent studying achievements, summarizes the lexical characteristics of legal English and raises the relevant translating methods. The author hopes that this thesis could make some assistance for present legal English study and translation.

我们提供的笔译服务始终如一、质量可靠、值得信赖。为帮助客户了解我们的质量,我们可以接受200字以内免费试译。客户拥有绝对的控制权。

发表评论

您的电子邮箱地址不会被公开。 必填项已用*标注

QQ业务客服
QQ翻译交流群
微信号:benzdeng
您好,有任何疑问请与我们联系!