Lost in Translation? Linguistic Diversity and the Elusive Quest for Plain Meaning in the Law

A book chapter in the Ashgate Handbook of Legal Translation, Le Chang, King Kui Sin, and Anne Wagner, eds. (2014)

Seattle University School of Law Research Paper No. 15-01

22 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2015  

Janet Ainsworth

Seattle University School of Law

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

It has long been recognized that legal translation -- the creation of equivalent legal texts in different languages -- poses a series of formidable challenges to the translator, some grounded in the nature of language, some in the relationship of language to culture, and some inherent in the nature of language use within the domain of law. This paper explores some of those challenges in the context of the developing norms of legal translation used within the European Union’s legal system and suggests that its practices have not been entirely successful in overcoming those challenges. It also suggests that a careful examination of the processes through which legal transplants are assimilated into national legal cultures shows that the theoretical problems inherent in legal translation are also at play in the reception of legal transplants, using contemporary Chinese business law as its example.

Keywords: legal language, translation, European Union, Chinese law

Suggested Citation

Ainsworth, Janet, Lost in Translation? Linguistic Diversity and the Elusive Quest for Plain Meaning in the Law (2014). A book chapter in the Ashgate Handbook of Legal Translation, Le Chang, King Kui Sin, and Anne Wagner, eds. (2014) ; Seattle University School of Law Research Paper No. 15-01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2568893

Janet Ainsworth (Contact Author)

Seattle University School of Law ( email )

901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall
P.O. Box 222000
Seattle, WA n/a 98122-1090
United States

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