Dissertation > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Translation

Long Sentences in Legal English and Their Translation: From the Angle of Functional Equivalence Theory

Author ZhangJingZuo
Tutor SongLei
School Southwest University of Political Science
Course Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords legal English legal documents legal translation complicated long sentences translation strategy translation method
CLC H315.9
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
Downloads 133
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Joining the WTO means China’s relations with foreign countries will become more and more close and China’s economic transactions with foreign countries will greatly increase out of which issues or even controversies will inevitably arises the settlement of which cannot be separated with employment of foreign languages, and especially of foreign legal languages. Fortunately, strengthening study of legal languages and legal translation will afford a substantial guarantee for smooth development of China’s foreign economic relations. As China’s economic and legal exchange with the outside world is steadily increasing, every year a large number of Chinese laws and legal documents need to be translated into foreign languages to let the world access to more China’s rules and regulations. At the same time, for the purpose of learning from the developed countries, a lot of foreign laws have been, are being or are to be translated into Chinese. Because of different histories, cultures, language structures, customs, as well as legal systems between English-speaking countries and China, translation of legal originals into legal target language texts is consequently by no means a simple task. For the purpose of smooth transmission of legal cultures and legal thoughts and avoiding unnecessary misunderstanding and cultural conflicts, it is of great importance for us to carefully study the textual structures of laws and especially accurately comprehend the long sentences in the English legal texts, based on which, this article attempts to take linguistic characteristics of legal English as the starting point to explore the features of legal translation, especially, the difficulties in translating long sentences.The sentence structures of legal English are rather complicated, having lots of modifiers, usually with one main clause containing many subordinate clauses, i.e., one clause linked with a clause, then with another and another, and another, including apposition, clasp structure, etc.; the reason of length of the sentence lies in that the legal draftsman customarily expresses the specific legal provision by employing a separate sentence with an intent to maintain the integrity of the legal provision, and avoid ambiguity and confusion. As such, it is not unusual that lots of legislative writings are very cumbersome with as many as two hundred or more words of a sentence readily found in the legislative text. In recent 20 years, knowledgeable people begin to advocate and appeal vehemently simplification of legal language. While in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the simplification movement has received some success, it seems that lawyers in England, Ireland and the United States still obstinately resist simple legal language. Consequently, in English legal texts long sentences are still commonplace.The present endeavor, from Nida’s functional equivalence theory and the author’s own experience in translation, tends to set out with an in-depth analysis of the legal English language and its structural features and a classification of long sentences, based on which and in the perspective of functional equivalence theory, it then demonstrates and further studies the strategies of translation of long sentences in legal English. In the author’s opinion, in terms of translation of long sentences, the most proper strategy we should adopt in practice is perhaps to combine the strategies of domestication and alienation, and to mix both literal and free translations on the basis of specific textual structural features.The thesis consists of five parts: The first part is a brief introduction to the rationale, purpose and significance of the study and the layout. The second part is the literature review, in which the author delivers the definition of functional equivalence, its application in translation and comments on the theory. The third part dedicates to the elements of long sentences in legal English. Part Four inquires the translation of long sentences, in which first comes the comprehension of long sentences, then the criteria and strategies of the translation, and how to translate long sentences in legal documents. Finally some attentive problems are discussed. Part Five is the conclusion which summarizes the main discussion in this thesis while pointing out the limitations of the present endeavor and making some suggestions for further study in this field.

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