Geoffrey Perrin article on translating criminal law/Artikel über Übersetzung Jugendstrafrecht

I’ve uploaded another article by Geoffrey Perrin on DE>EN legal translation. It appeared in Lebende Sprachen in 1989.

There have been changes in the juvenile criminal law since then, but the basic contrast between the German and English systems is still valid. This is illustrated by diagrams. The article is folowed by a glossary. The glossary contains terms actually in use and also coinings, marked *: suggested translations rather than terms actually in use.

The article is a first-class illustration of the practical problems in collating terminology for a field.

Download file

Some of the points discussed:

In legal translation we are not comparing like with like, so the principles of terminology work cannot be fully adhered to – it’s better to use terms that are not identical, in order to avoid misconceptions.

Where do we take our language from – does it have to be one specific target legal system?

bq. One or two further observations on the approach I have adopted in compiling my list: in a number of instances, I have provided glosses or explanations in brackets – the translator will decide himself, of course, whether the circumstances call for them to be included, either by building them into the text he is producing, or in the form of footnotes. In some cases, I have not hesitated to use terms which are now obsolete as regards official use in Britain where I feel these are suitable for conveying a German concept (e.g. “misdemeanour” for “Verfehlung”). The soft sciences are particularly prone to rapid obsolescence in the terminological field, since they are precisely those spheres of life which are most at the mercy of the whims of governments as they come and go. If one were to reject a term simply because it ceased to be employed officially a year or two previously, the terminologist’s job would become even more difficult!

This reminds me of how many words have been changed in English law in recent years. I usually still use plaintiff, custody, access.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.