Problematic terms of art used in contracts

I am delighted to present a guest post today from Kenneth A. Adams. According to the Canadian periodical The Lawyers Weekly, “In the world of contract drafting, Ken Adams is the guru.” His book A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting is widely used throughout the legal profession. He gives seminars in the U.S., Canada, and internationally, acts as a consultant and expert witness, and is a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Ken’s blog contains a multitude of posts about specific terms and issues relating to contract drafting. The post below contains a number of links (terms in red) – by clicking you can find out more about each term. Over to you Ken!

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Reporting from Canterbury – Part 3

Following two previous posts in late August (part 1 & part 2), today I would like to end my report on the Canterbury conference “Comparative Law: Engaging Translation” with a summary of Professor Gémar’s keynote talk.

Prof. Jean-Claude Gémar, Universities of Montreal & Geneva

Law’s labours: Lost or gained in translation? Language, law and translation.

The highly eminent Professor Gémar treated* us to “21 ways to look at translation” (both general and legal). It was a whistle-stop tour of more or less every important issue for translators and translation. These are the main points only – the full paper will be published in the conference proceedings.

  1. Translating: from Babel to Babel** – ancient and modern
  2. What translation is (and is not all about) – source and target; facilitating communication
  3. Translation: ways and means – methods and strategies
  4. Translation and equivalence
  5. Translation: an art, a craft or a “science”?
  6. Language and translation: general vs technical
  7. Law and translation: a natural or forced partnership?
  8. The specificity of legal texts
  9. Translating legal texts, translation problems
  10. The translator is a sorcerer’s apprentice
  11. Translation’s semper fi, but the translator is always confronted with novel textual conditions
  12. Translation is governed by cultures
  13. Linguistic vs legal equivalence
  14. Translation is not a matter of words
  15. The length of the translated text
  16. Sense-giving and sense-reading
  17. It is always possible to say the same thing… differently
  18. French and English: two (linguistic) solitudes
  19. The good, the bad, and… the worse
  20. The quest for the grail: in search of the best translation method
  21. The translator: interpres ut orator?

Professor Gémar concluded with some enlightening statements and citations: “to translate is to seek truth without the expectation of resolution”. “Language signs [are…] far more mysterious than atoms and stars”. “A translation, particularly a legal one, is but an approximation, if not a compromise”. “This quest for equivalence is […] for the translator, a herculean effort and task”. “How can we translate into French or Spanish (or whatever language) Mary Poppins’ supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? We shouldn’t even try!”

*and it was a real treat – if you have the opportunity to hear him speak in person, don’t miss the chance.

** The translation journal Babel

You might also be interested to listen to a recording of Professor Gémar speaking (in French) at the University of Montreal in their conférences midi series, entitled Traduire le droit: de la traduction juridique à la jurilinguistique – Texte(s), culture(s) et équivalence”. Click to access the video.

Reporting from Canterbury – Part 2

I hope you will enjoy this second post on the conference “Comparative Law: Engaging Translation”, once again, a subjective selection that may be of interest to you. You can find the first post here.

Asst. Prof. Cornelis Baaij, University of Amsterdam

Legal translation and the ‘Contamination’ of Comparative Legal research

As you can see from the title, Cornelis Baaij talked about the translator as a contaminant. Before the translators reading this start preparing to lynch him 🙂 I must add a caveat – he was talking about a very specific situation – the context of comparative legal research.

In brief, Baaij argues that a target-oriented approach to legal translation in the above case is not useful – that any efforts on the part of the translator to “tailor-make” the text for its audience will hinder the comparative lawyer in their task of understanding a foreign legal system. He therefore advances a literal approach – exposing the “foreignness” of the text.

Whether you agreed with his propos or not, it was certainly a very stimulating talk!

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Reporting from Canterbury – Part 1

Today I offer you my report on the conference “Comparative Law: Engaging Translation” that took place at Kent Law School, Canterbury, UK from 21-22 June 2012.

The conference brought together many highly eminent speakers, and included a host of different perspectives and disciplines.

The conference’s main assumption was that “the question of comparative law is through and through one of translation”.

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Online volunteering with the United Nations

Surprised that you can volunteer online? Well, you can! I’ve been doing this for a number of years now, and thought I would share the information with you, because I don’t think that many people are aware that they can help out from their desktop.

Why volunteer online?

“Volunteering online is an opportunity to support the cause of sustainable human development working from a computer anywhere in the world. Volunteers do not need to travel and have a great degree of flexibility in volunteering the hours that fit their schedule.”

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Legal considerations – machine translation and copyright

This guest post is published under a GNU version 2 licence, and comes from the Open Translation Tools Manual (more about that in a forthcoming post). It was written by Ed Bice in 2009, with modifications by Thom Hastings also in 2009. Despite being 3 years old, I think it brings up some very interesting topics for discussion. I look forward to reading your comments!

American copyright law considers a translation a derivative work. As such translators must obtain permission from the copyright or derivative right holder of the source language text. With regard to online translation, we expect that as Machine Translation (MT) and Hybrid Distributed Translation (HDT- strategies combining human and machine translation) come of age significant changes will need to be made to the legal framework to accommodate these technologies.

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Quantifying the cost of poor quality in translation – sour cherries

The Directorate-General for Translation of the European Commission has made available a report written late last year, as part of the ‘Studies on translation and multilingualism’ series, on Quantifying Quality Costs and the Cost of Poor Quality in Translation. The document can be downloaded in PDF format here.

Items such as prevention of poor quality, evaluation, and clarification of original texts may be of interest to those of you procuring translation as well as to translators. Some case studies from ‘real life’ have been given.  One interesting example relates to protective measures on the import of sour cherries which accidentally became “sweet cherries” in the initial German version.

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Translation of ancient Chinese legal texts ‘as important as the Dead Sea Scrolls’

The University of California Santa Barbara has issued the following press release:

UCSB History Scholar Translates and Interprets Ancient Chinese Legal Texts

In an ancient tomb in China’s Hubei Province, archeologists discovered a basket of medical, mathematical, and legal texts that date back to the late third and early second centuries B.C. A historian at UC Santa Barbara is working to translate and interpret the legal texts, of which there are two, and describes them as “a gold mine of social and legal history.”

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Taniguchi case outcome – A good or a bad thing for justice?

Following on from my February post about the US Supreme Court case differentiating translation costs and interpretation costs, today we have a second thought-provoking guest post from Tony Rosado (see his earlier post here). In addition to discussing the outcome of the case, he also gives some very good advice on how to deal with its aftermath.

Tony has been a freelance conference interpreter for almost 30 years and is Federally, Colorado, and New Mexico certified. He also qualified as an attorney from the Escuela Libre de Derecho in Mexico City. You may also be interested in his English/Spanish blog. Tony runs Rosado Professional Solutions in Chicago.

“After watching many of our colleagues celebrating because the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the definition of an interpreter in the Taniguchi case, and more importantly, after reviewing the briefs, oral arguments, full written decision, and the dissenting opinion by Justice Ginsburg, I wonder if this decision should be cause for joy or grounds for concern.

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