Legal translation

Leon Wolff

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Legal translation theory brooks little interference with the source legal text. With few exceptions (Joseph 1995, Hammel 2008, Harvey 2002, Kahaner 2005, Kasirer 2001, Lawson 2007), lawyers and linguists tend to tether themselves to the pole of literalism. More a tight elastic band than an unyielding rope, this tether constrains - rather than prohibits - free translation. It can stretch to accommodate a degree of freedom by the legal translator. However, should it go too far, it snaps back to the default position of linguistic fidelity. This 'stretch and snap' gives legal translation a unique place in general translation theory. In the general debate over the 'degree of freedom' the translator enjoys in conveying the meaning of the text, legal translation theory has reached its own settlement. Passivity is the default; creativity, the 'qualified' exception (Hammel 2008: 275).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Translation Studies
EditorsKirsten Malmkjaer, Kevin Windle
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9780199239306
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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