Interpretation versus translation at the US Supreme Court

I think that most people reading this will agree that interpretation (or interpreting) is not the same as translation. However, outside the strict circle of the profession, the difference is not so well known.

Today we shall see how this distinction is causing a real furore!

The US Supreme Court is currently deliberating over whether costs of translation differ from costs of interpretation, in a case involving a Japanese man. Indeed the transcript of last Tuesday’s session goes into great detail. It’s 63 pages long (perhaps demonstrating the complexity of the issues involved), but well worth reading if the issue piques your interest.

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Legal Language Explorer

The Google N-grams tool (see my recent post and update) has now fostered a new application to search 200 years of US Supreme Court decisions: Legal Language Explorer. It has been developed by Professor Dr. Daniel Martin Katz of Michigan State University College of Law, Michael J. Bommarito II of Computational Legal Studies, and their colleagues.

The tool is lightning fast, and I really like the way that the corpus tool allows you to click through to list of cases and then to see the original text, and to export lists to Excel, for example. I also support the move, of which the authors are part, to make more full-text legal resources openly available to the public.

Click here to see a presentation of the service, given at the conference JURIX 2011 in mid-December. Bommarito has also posted a more technical description of the project on his blog.

You can try out the web-based interface here. Let me know what you think!

Thanks to Rob L. indirectly via Australia, and Robert at Legal Informatics Blog for bringing the project to my attention.

New access to supreme court rulings in French

The Juricaf database has been freely accessible to the public since October this year, and includes almost 800,000 supreme court rulings from forty French-speaking countries, including OHADA countries as well as France, Switzerland, Canada and Belgium.

I love the clear and efficient interface too.

The project is a joint initiative of AHJUCAF, the Association of francophone supreme courts (50 members), and the Laboratoire Normologie Linguistique et Informatique du droit at the Sorbonne University in Paris. It is supported by the Organisation internationale de la francophonie and other organizations promoting the French language.

In the mid-term there is a plan to produce multilingual thesauri, in particular to assist legal professionals from common law jurisdictions, which sounds very interesting indeed.

My thanks go to Library Boy, an Ottawa law librarian’s blog, and the excellent Legal Informatics Blog for their posts on the Juricaf database. This post is by kind permission of AHJUCAF.