Original Research

The curious case of legal translation

E. Cornelius
Literator | Vol 32, No 1 | a6 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v32i1.6 | © 2011 E. Cornelius | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 June 2011 | Published: 22 June 2011

About the author(s)

E. Cornelius, Department of Linguistics & Literary Theory, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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This article explores the nature and scope of legal translation which is an under-researched area in South Africa. In this article the author predicts that the demand for competent legal translators will increase in the future, evidenced by a recent call by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development(DoJ&CD), inviting applications for ten positions for “legislative language practitioners”. However, legal translation differs substantially from general translation in the sense that legal translation is subject to heavy restrictions at all levels and legal considerations are of paramount importance in a country such as South Africa, which provides for eleven official languages. Legal translation involves different legal languages, different legal systems and different cultural systems that require specialised knowledge and skills of the translator. The aim of this article is to investigate the core competencies and skills the legal translator must have; to consider the balance between legal competence and translation or linguistic competence; and to propose a discourse-analytical method of source text analysis, developed by Bhatia as a simplification strategy, as this may be a powerful tool in the training of legal translators in South Africa. Recent developments in South Africa relating to the Department of Arts and Culture’s obligation to translate legislation into all official languages, have important consequences for legal translation in general and the training of legal translators in particular.


Source; Text; Analysis; Rhetorical; Structuring


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Crossref Citations

1. A critical account of the concept of ‘basic legal knowledge’: theory and practice
Pilar Ordóñez-López
The Interpreter and Translator Trainer  vol: 9  issue: 2  first page: 156  year: 2015  
doi: 10.1080/1750399X.2015.1051768