Publication details [#54523]

Chan, Clara Ho-yan. 2011. The use and translation of Chinese legal terminology in the property laws of mainland China and Hong Kong: Problems, strategies and future development. Terminology 17 (2) : 249–273.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


The paramount importance of 'equivalence' of terms in legal translation raises challenging issues for Chinese, in that legal terminology in mainland China differs from that of Hong Kong due to the separate legal systems maintained under “One country, two systems“. With the more frequent interaction between the two regions since the handover in 1997, Chinese legal terminology has been undergoing transformation as China also aims to globalize its legal system by introducing legal concepts from other countries and adapting them to work within the confines of local culture (Potter 2001: 4-15). There is, therefore, a great need for systematic study of the Chinese legal terms of the two regions to clarify confusion between similar terms and cast light on the overall trends. This study focuses on the Property Law of the People's Republic of China promulgated in October 2007 in order to safeguard state and private property, as part of an ongoing effort to develop a civil code under the globalizing trend of integration. It chooses this case study because the use of terms in the new property law and their contrast with the usage in Hong Kong law are highly representative of the latest developments. The present state of affairs is that no overall strategies have been formulated with regard to English-Chinese and Chinese-English legal term translation. As a result, there are problematic cases, but most of these remain untouched by linguists and translation scholars. In its conclusion, the paper attempts to measure the equivalence of terminology, in order to shed light on future directions in the translation of Chinese and Hong Kong legislature. It also makes suggestions regarding the differentiation and standardization of terms commonly used in the property laws of the mainland and Hong Kong, and their translations.