Vol. 7:2 (2021) ► pp. 224–247
Assessing legal terminological variation in institutional translation
The case of national court names in the human rights monitoring procedures of the United Nations
This paper presents the main findings of a study on the translation of national court names in United Nations texts as an illustrative group of culture-bound terms. It focuses on documents produced as part of several mandatory compliance monitoring procedures in the field of human rights. The study is part of a broader project on legal translation in international organisations (LETRINT), which considers terminological consistency and adequacy as indicators of translation quality, and examines the impact of legal asymmetry on both dimensions. To shed light on the first of these indicators, a comprehensive analysis of intertextual and intratextual variations of English-Spanish and French-Spanish translations of thirty terms was conducted. Over five thousand bi- and trilingual segments, extracted from three ad-hoc multilingual and parallel corpora, were examined. They cover the period between 2000 and 2017, and refer to six legal systems. At the intertextual level, the results corroborate that legal asymmetry has a significant impact on translation decision-making, while the assessment of intratextual variation points to a link between source text length, documental series and the degree of terminological consistency.
- 2.The translation of culture-bound legal terms in UN treaty body documents
- 3.Datasets and methodology
- 3.1Corpora description
- 3.2Variation as an indicator of consistency
- 4.1Overview of variation rates
- 4.2Translation variability of illustrative terms
- 5.Concluding remarks
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