Concept maps as teaching tools for students in legal translation


Abstract – The exponential growth of international business relations has resulted in the development of rules and laws regulating the relationships between parties from different countries and, as a consequence, of international institutions (e.g. Arbitration Tribunals, Chambers of Commerce) and legal instruments (e.g. international arbitration awards, contracts and power of attorney), intended to safeguard the fairness of transactions. International contracts certainly entail more serious problems than contracts agreed upon at a national level, as different legal systems (e.g. Common Law vs. Civil Law), discourse practices and languages come into contact (Bhatia et al. 2008; Cordero-Moss 2013, 2014). As a result, a number of significant problems arise in terms of translation theory and practice, including issues relevant to the teaching of legal translation, i.e. what methods and tools can be used to teach students, with poor or no knowledge of legal issues, to translate international contracts correctly and knowingly. With that in mind, this paper proposes a methodology to develop legal competences in students attending an MA course in specialized translation at the University of Bari. The methodology is based on the construction of a set of concepts maps (Novak, Cañas 2007) regarding English and Italian contracts, namely distribution agreements. Map-building is intended as a simplification teaching methodology the purpose of which is to easify students’ learning of legal matters (Bhatia 1983) and their encyclopedic knowledge (Evans, Green 2006).

Keywords: legal translation; international contracts; teaching methodology; cognitive map; encyclopaedic knowledge.


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