[New publication] Translation Spaces, 8 (1): Corpus-Based Research in Legal and Institutional Translation

Corpus-Based Research in Legal and Institutional Translation


The use of corpora in legal and institutional translation studies: Directions and applications, by Fernando Prieto Ramos

Abstract: Research in legal and institutional translation within the realm of Legal Translation Studies (LTS) has greatly benefited from embracing the advances of Corpus Linguistics in the past few decades. This paper provides an overview of corpus-based approaches in LTS and illustrates their increasing prominence and sophistication through the description of seven selected representative projects, including a wide range of corpus types, translation contexts, legal genres, jurisdictions, sizes and languages. The comparative examination of these studies confirms the relevance of corpus methods for LTS, the need to integrate quantitative and qualitative considerations (crucially including legal parameters) into corpus-building criteria, as well as the correlation between research scope and methodological nuance in ensuring corpus suitability.


When international case-law meets national law: A corpus-based study on Italian system-bound loan words in ECtHR judgments, by Katia Peruzzo

Abstract: The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is an international court set up in 1959 with the aim of ruling on applications alleging violations of the rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court’s official languages are English and French, which are also used for delivering and publishing its judgments. In order to decide on the single cases, the ECtHR needs to discuss and recall national and international legislation. This leaves “traces” in the Court’s judgments. The focus of this paper is on one possible type of such traces, i.e. loan words referring to Italian legal concepts and institutions. The paper presents a case study conducted on a corpus of ECtHR judgments published in English. The aims are to propose a methodology for the semi-automatic extraction of loan words and to analyse them in the light of translation techniques.


Deontic modality in English-Thai legislative translation: A corpus-based study, by Mali Satthachai

Abstract: Scholarly interest in legislative translation has grown substantially over recent decades, with corpus-based approaches contributing to our understanding of the relationship between translated legislation and source texts, on the one hand, and translated and non-translated legislative texts in the target language, on the other. To date, however, most studies have been conducted on European languages. This study is part of a first attempt to use corpus techniques to explore legislative translation from English into Thai. Drawing on a purpose-built, 400,000-word, parallel corpus of international treaties translated from English into Thai, and a one million-word monolingual corpus of legislative texts originally written in Thai, we investigate how instances of deontic modality are translated into Thai. We analyse the modal strength of translations and conduct our inter-linguistic and intra-linguistic comparisons in the light of Biel’s (2014) concepts of equivalence and textual fit.


The formulaicity of translations across EU institutional genres: A corpus-driven analysis of lexical bundles in translated and non-translated language, by Dariusz Koźbiał and Katarzyna Wasilewska

Abstract: This paper explores the formulaicity of EU translations into Polish across four institutional genres (legislation, judgments, reports, websites) with reference to the corresponding EU English corpora in order to understand how the degree of formulaicity is affected by the variable of genre. Formulaicity is operationalised as lexical bundles – high-frequency multi-word sequences (Biber and Barbieri 2007). The study shows a strong correlation between formulaicity and genres, as well as multiple facets of formulaicity (e.g. tokens vs. types). Our findings generally confirm the increased aggregate formulaicity of translations as regards bundle tokens for all EU genres, except for judgments, and the increased variation of bundles (types) for all the genres at the 40 occurrences per million words (pmw) threshold, although the “micro-formulaicity” threshold yielded inconclusive results. Another finding reveals a consistently low overlap of bundles between translations and non-translations. We argue that translations develop their own formulaic profiles which are levelled out compared to EU English corpora and which minimally overlap with formulaic profiles of domestic genres.


Building representative multi-genre corpora for legal and institutional translation research: The LETRINT approach to text categorization and stratified sampling, by Fernando Prieto Ramos, Giorgina Cerutti and Diego Guzmán

Abstract: Exploring questions of representativeness, balance and comparability is essential to tailoring corpus design and compilation to research goals, and to ensuring the validity of research results. This is especially true when the target population of texts under examination is very large and transcends a restricted area of specialization and/or covers multiple genres, as in the case of texts translated in institutional settings. This paper describes the multilayered sequential approach to corpus building applied in a comparative study on legal translation in three of these settings. The approach is based on a full mapping and categorization of institutional texts from a legal perspective; it applies an innovative combination of stratified sampling techniques integrating quantitative and qualitative criteria adapted to the research aims. The resulting corpora, categorization matrix and selection records, together with the methodological detail provided, can be useful for building other multi-genre corpora in translation studies and further afield.


A corpus-based study of terminological variation in business incorporation documents from the United States and Peru, by Mary Ann Monteagudo Medina

Abstract: This corpus-based terminological study explains terminological variation in business incorporation documents. In United States (US) business law, the geographic location, the variety of existing business entities and their distinguishing features lead to different denominative variations, and give rise to different degrees of equivalence. Consequently, asymmetries are generated when such terminology is compared with the terminology used in Spanish-speaking countries, particularly in Peru. Based on the typology of causes of denominative variation proposed by Freixa Aymerich (2006, 52), this paper examines the presence of dialectal and cognitive variations in US business law language as compared to Peruvian business law language. Consequently, certain variants are restricted to specific states or types of business organizations within the US and are not used interchangeably. The results of this study may contribute to the enrichment of legal translation studies in this subfield and offer translators a systematic method to tackle equivalence issues in business documents.


Procuração/power of attorney: A corpus-based translation-oriented analysis, by Tereza Passos e Sousa Marques Afonso and Maria do Céu Henriques de Bastos

Abstract: This paper presents a contrastive legal and corpus-based linguistic and terminological analysis to translate a common legal instrument on a global scale, the power of attorney in English or procuração in Portuguese. This usually takes the shape of a written document, granted before a notary public as required by law, allowing one person to appoint another person to act on his/her behalf. Civil law and common law systems differ considerably with respect to requirements, formalities and range of powers permitted. In cross-border transactions, a translation is required to certify the authority given to third parties who do not speak the language. Bearing this in mind, a comparable corpus of authentic Portuguese and British texts (from England and Wales, and Northern Ireland) pertaining to this legal genre (12 procurações and 24 PoA) is analysed to identify its characteristics at functional, situational, thematic, lexical and grammatical levels.


The challenge of multilingual ‘plain language’ in translation-mediated Swiss administrative communication: A preliminary comparative analysis of insurance leaflets, by Annarita Felici

Abstract: Barrier-free communication should be an institutional priority when drafting administrative texts. These not only deal with legal content, but they often address the lay citizen and may provide general information on services and reforms or simply instruct on a specific procedure to be followed. Our study investigates Swiss insurance leaflets in three languages (French, German and Italian) and aims at evaluating language clarity on the basis of ‘plain language’ guidelines, thus also considering the translation variable. However, our preliminary results show that ‘plain communication’ is not always the case. We applied a quantitative and qualitative triangulation methodology: firstly, we measured readability with the help of readability indices; subsequently, we used computational tools to highlight common linguistic gaps whose quality was also explored manually by taking textual aspects into account.