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Legal and linguistic aspects of translatingenglish legal terminology

Legal and linguistic aspects of translatingenglish legal terminology
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Legal and linguistic aspects of translatingenglish legal terminology

Шеберстова Т.Б., ассистент кафедры гражданского права, процесса и основ предпринимательской деятельности ИвГУ

Active interaction of Russia with countries of the world community raised a wide range of issues concerning international business activities. Foreign and multinational corporations as well as domestic companies are involved in international deals all over the world. With rapid growth of international business transactions and, consequently, international commercial disputes, the problems of legal translating acquired vital importance.

Nowadays the English language has become the language of choice for conducting an international business. In addition, the English language has become prominent as the operational language of many law firms and multinational corporations. Thus, interest in studying English legal terminology and legal translating has recently grown up. In this context, the article reviews general peculiarities of legal terms and focuses on linguistic and legal aspects of translating English legal terminology.

While exploring legal terminology we have to determine the unit of this terminological system. In this article we define a term as a word or a word combination belonging to the specific field of usage, either specially created or borrowed for determining a specific concept and based on a definition. In that way, "a legal term is a word or a word combination which stands for a general name of a legal concept, has a specific and definite meaning, and is often used in legislation and legal documents" [6; 7, p. 64].

Contemporary language of law makes several requirements relating to legal terms that should be taken into consideration in the process of translating. The legal term should meet the following important requirements:

a) satisfy the rules and norms of a corresponding language,

b) be systematic,

c) correspond to a certain definition oriented to a certain concept,

d) be relatively independent of the context,

e) be precise,

f) be as concise as possible,

g) aim at one-to-one correspondence (within the certain terminological system),

h) be expressively neutral,

i) be euphonical.

The language of law as a special sublanguage has its own content and a set of specific characteristics which vary depending on a language system. However, irrespective of a language, the major part of its distinctive features and peculiarities are explained by the influence of historical, cultural, social and political factors on the language community.

The English legal language is characterized by a specific set of terms. First of all, it comprises numerous Latin words and phrases (ex. lex loci actus, res gestae, corpus delicti, lex domicilii, etc.). It also has words of the Old and Middle English origin, including compounds which are no longer in common usage (aforesaid, hereinabove, hereafter, whereby, etc.). Besides, the English legal language includes a large amount of words derived from French (appeal, plaintiff, tort, lien, estoppel, verdict etc.). The language of law also uses formal and ceremonial words (I do solemnly swear, Your Honour, May it please the court...) and technical terms with precise meanings (defendant, negligence, bail etc). Thus, the present content of the English language of law is due to the influence of different languages and that has a historical explanation [2, p. 386; 3; 5, p.187 ]. Considering Russian legal terminology, we should keep in mind that it comprises fewer borrowings and compounds than the English one. A considerable part of legal terms is of a national origin including Old Russian (for example, истец, ответчик, право). This may be explained by the history of Russia and its legal system development as well. At the same time, contemporary Russian legal language has been enriched by the new law terms derived from English (лизинг - leasing, антитрестовский - antitrust, корпоративный - corporate, факторинг - factoring etc.) [1; 3; 4]. Thus, English and Russian legal languages are characterized by their own specific features which are explained by the historical, political, social and cultural influences.

Dealing with the language of law implies two forms of transferring from one language to another – legal interpreting and legal translating.

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