A comparative study of the English translation of the legal terminologies in Chinese statutory laws

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A comparative study of the English translation of the legal terminologies in Chinese statutory laws

 

Author: Wei, Heng
Title: A comparative study of the English translation of the legal terminologies in Chinese statutory laws
Degree: DALS
Year: 2016
Subject: Law -- Translating.
Law -- Language.
Chinese language -- Translating into English
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Faculty of Humanities
Pages: x, 265 pages
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2952754
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/8893
Abstract: This dissertation examines the translation of legal terms from Chinese into English. The source texts examined in this research are Chinese statutory laws legislated by the People's congress. The target texts in the research are the English translations of Chinese statutory laws by two legal information service databanks: Chinalawinfo and Westlawchina. The research is conducted both diachronically and synchronically. The diachronic comparison examines a selection of terminologies translated before and after amendment of the law, aiming to find translation discrepancies brought about by the passage of time. The synchronic comparison aims to determine how these two databanks differ in their approach to translation, and factors attribute to the difference. The present research adopts description as the main research method. The object described is the initial norm, which is whether the translation is source language oriented or target legal culture oriented. The toolkit used in the description is an original design by this research based on Šarcevic's framework of degree of equivalent for terminology translation, which includes the translation methods of functional equivalent, semantic, faithful, and word for word. The research uses these tools to categorize the translations, and then analyzes the features of translations completed at different times and by different translators. The research finds that diachronically, the more recent translations tend to adopt the functional equivalent method, which is a more target language and culture oriented strategy than that used by the earlier translations. Despite the difference of method, both the earlier and more recent translations take the source language constraints as an indispensable consideration. The diachronic comparison proves that profound legal system reform and social-cultural changes affect the legal translation method and strategy. Synchronically, the study finds that the translation methods used by Westlawchina are more function oriented than Chinalawinfo. The comparison also shows that area of law, whether private or public law, source text phrasal structure, and understanding of the ST are factors that influence legal term translation. The findings partly echo Šarcevic's conclusion that "legal translation is legal communication within the mechanism of law," because legal function is gaining more weight in the process of Chinese-English legal term translation. But this research finds that SL still has great influence on Chinese-English legal translation. Šarcevic's theory was developed with reference to the multilingual EU legal culture, where the same legal document has the same legal effect in different languages. Whereas for Chinese-English statutory law translation, this is not the case. Therefore, the present research supplements and improves upon Šarcevic's theory with concrete factors of what legal term translation involves, which is theoretically and applicably significant.

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