Reporting from Brussels – Translation Studies Days, part 4

In this fourth and final part of my report from Brussels on the Translation Studies Days held on 20 & 21 September 2012, I’d like to present four projects from members of the European Master’s in Translation (EMT) research network, and the European Comparable and Parallel Corpora research group project.

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Happy Birthday WordstoDeeds!

Dear Readers,

Today marks one year from the launch of this blog, and I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank you all so much for reading, contributing and sharing here.

My aim, as you know, was to create a platform for bridges to be built between translators, interpreters, legal professionals and academia. I feel we have made a really good start, and look forward to continuing this virtual adventure with you all.

Warm wishes and thanks to all of you.

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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