Rob Lunn is a legal translator in Spain who has been doing an MA in legal translation at City University in London. On his blog Legally Yours, he offers Abstract and download of my dissertation on legal translation.
While it specifically looks at using the Louisiana Civil Code as a source of ‘third-system’ translations for Spanish legal terms, it also explores some of the general issues involved in bridging the gap between legal systems in translation, including non-equivalence and the idea that different audiences might require different kinds of legal English.
When I was first teaching legal translation in the 1980s, before the days of much legal translation theory, I was happy to use Martin Weston’s An English Reader’s Guide to the French Legal System, above all because of its chapter on translation methodology, which listed ways to deal with a foreign term. I didn’t always agree with Weston’s conclusions, but he offered a good framework to think about the problem. Weston is also in Rob’s excellent bibliography.
There are two useful tables on terms in the appendix. It’s a good place to get an orientation on the problems discussed. Civil-law terms needing translation into English are obviously found in German too. For instance, there’s the consideration of whether one translates Dienstbarkeit (Spanish servidumbre) as servitude or easement.
The dissertation invites further research into the search for terminological equivalents – he concentrates on property law.
Elsewhere in the blog, Rob explains why the Louisiana Civil Code might be very interesting for its Spanish connections.
So, as the civil codes of both Spain and Louisiana were originally based on the same sources (i.e., Spanish law and the French Civil Code), there is bound to be an amount of shared or similar content in them, even in today’s revisions.
More surprisingly, though, is that the Louisiana Civil Code of 1825 was influential in Spain’s draft civil code of 1851, a predecessor to Spain’s first civil code, the Civil Code of 1889. According to Parise (2008), reference was made to 1,103 articles of Louisiana’s 1825 code in the comments to 1,992 articles of the Spanish draft in Concordancias, motivos y comentarios del Código civil español, the rationale for the draft written by its principal author, García Goyena.
He also recommends Rome and Kinsella’s Louisiana Civil Law Dictionary. You can get this as an ebook, incidentally.