Legal translation and terminological resources. How to deal with stipulative correspondence


The notion of ‘equivalence’ is not new to translation studies and terminology but has been studied differently in these two disciplines, since translation equivalence and terminological equivalence do not coincide: while the former establishes a relationship between source-language (SL) and target-language (TL) units, segments or full texts, the latter assesses the relationship between terms and concepts embedded in conceptual systems. However, in the translation process, terminological resources are used to solve translation problems, so information on terminological equivalence is crucial for making the most appropriate choices in terms of translation equivalence. While playing a fundamental role in the building of bi- or multilingual terminological resources, equivalence has frequently failed to receive the visibility it deserves. In many resources, terms in two or more languages are presented as if they were characterized by full equivalence, even when this is not the case, while it would be better for the degree of equivalence to be specified. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the debate over the notion of equivalence in translation studies and in terminology, with special emphasis on legal terminology. The role of equivalence in legal terminological repositories is discussed in order to introduce “stipulative correspondence” (Magris 2018), a category that identifies the lexical relation between a term referring to a concept embedded in a specific legal system and a term used in a target language – which is not a language in which the legal system is generally expressed – to refer to the same concept. Stipulative correspondence is illustrated by examples extracted from an Italian-English parallel corpus of judgments delivered by the Italian Constitutional Court (Schiavi 2017-2018). It is argued that stipulative correspondence should be taken into account when designing (or restructuring) terminological resources and when describing information relevant to legal translation.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v49p129

Keywords: stipulative correspondence; translation equivalence; terminological equivalence; legal terminology; legal translation


Arntz R. and Picht H. 1989, Einführung in die Terminologiearbeit, Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim.

Arrojo R. 1986, Oficina de tradução. A teoria na prática, Editora Ática, São Paolo.

Baker M. 1992, In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation, Routledge, London/New York.

Bourigault D. and Slodzian M. 1999, Pour une terminologie textuelle, in “Terminologies Nouvelles” 19, pp. 29-32.

Cabré M.T. 2000, Elements for a theory of terminology: Towards an alternative paradigm, in “Terminology” 6 [1], pp. 35-57.

Cabré M.T. 2003, Theories of Terminology. Their description, prescription and explanation, in “Terminology” 9 [2], pp. 163-199.

Cao D. 2007, Translating Law, Multilingual Matters, Clevedon/Buffalo/Toronto.

Catford J.C. 1965, A Linguistic Theory of Translation: An Essay in Applied Linguistics, Oxford University Press, London.

Cheng L. and Sin K.K. 2008, Terminological Equivalence in Legal Translation: A Semiotic Approach, in “Semiotica” 172 [1], pp. 33-45.

Condamines A. 2010, Variations in terminology. Application to the management of risks related to language use in the workplace, in “Terminology” 16 [1], pp. 30-50.

Correia R. 2003, Translation of EU Legal Texts, in Tosi A. (ed.), Crossing Barriers and Bridging Cultures. The Challenges of Multilingual Translation for the European Union, Multilingual Matters Ltd, Clevedon/Buffalo/Toronto/Sydney, pp. 38-66.

Delisle J. 2003, La traduction raisonnée. Manuel d’initiation a la traduction professionnelle de l’anglais-vers le français, 2nd edition, Les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa, Ottawa.

van Els T.J.M. 2001, The European Union, its Institutions and its Languages: Some Language Political Observations, in “Current Issues in Language Planning” 2 [4], pp. 311-360.

Faber P. 2009, The Cognitive Shift in Terminology and Specialized Translation, in “MonTI. A (Self-)Critical Perspective of Translation Theories” 1, pp. 107-134.

Felber H. and Budin G. 1989, Terminologie in Theorie und Praxis, Gunter Narr Verlag, Tübingen.

Gambier Y. 1991, Travail et vocabulaire spécialisés: prolégomènes à une socio-terminologie, in “Meta: Journal Des Traducteurs” 36 [1], pp. 8-15.

Garzone G. 2003, Arbitration Rules across Legal Cultures: an Intercultural Approach, in Bhatia V., Candlin C.N. and Gotti M. (eds.), Legal Discourse in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts. Arbitration Texts in Europe, Peter Lang, Bern, pp. 177-220.

Gaudin F. 1993, Pour une socioterminologie: des problèmes pratiques aux pratiques institutionnelles, Université de Rouen, Rouen.

Gaudin F. 2003, Socioterminologie: une approche sociolinguistique de la terminologie, Éditions Duculot, Brussels.

Gerzymisch-Arbogast H. 2001, Equivalence Parameters and Evaluation, in “Meta: Journal Des Traducteurs” 46 [2], pp. 227-242.

de Groot G.-R. 1996a, Het vertalen van juridische informatie, in de Groot G.-R. and Florijn N. (eds.), Het vertalen van juridische informatie / Rechtsvergelijking in de bestudering van het publiekrecht : een stilistische benadering, Kluver, Deventer, pp. 1-77.

de Groot G.-R. 1996b, Law, Legal Language and the Legal System: Reflections on the Problems of Translating Legal Texts, in Gessner V., Hoeland A. and Varga C. (eds.), European Legal Cultures, Aldershot, Dartmouth, pp. 155-161.

de Groot G.-R. 2006, Legal translation, in Smits J.M. (ed.), Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham/Northampton, pp. 423-433.

de Groot G.-R. and van Laer C.J.P. 2006, The Dubious Quality of Legal Dictionaries, in “International Journal of Legal Information” 34 [1], pp. 65-86.

Halverson S. 1997, The concept of equivalence in Translation Studies: much ado about something, in “Target” 9, pp. 207-233.

Holmes J.S. 1988, Translated! Papers on Literary Translation and Translation Studies, Rodopi, Amsterdam.

House J. 1997, Translation Quality Assessment. A Model Revisited, Gunter Narr Verlag, Tübingen.

Joseph J.E. 1995, Indeterminacy, Translation and the Law, in Morris M. (ed.), Translation and the Law, John Benjamins, Amsterdam/Philadelphia, pp. 13-36.

Kasirer N. 1999, Le real estate existe-t-il en droit civil? Un regard sur le lexique juridique de droit civil de langue anglaise, in Sacco R. and Castellani L. (eds.), Les multiples langues du droit européen uniforme, L’Harmattan Italia, Torino.

Kenny D. 2009, Equivalence, in Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, 2nd edition, Routledge, London/New York, pp. 96-99.

Kjær A.L. 2007, Legal Translation in the European Union: a Research Field in Need of a New Approach, in Kredens K. and Goźdź-Roszkowski S. (eds.), Language and the Law: International Outlooks, Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Mein, pp. 69-95.

Koller W. 1989, Equivalence in translation theory, in Chesterman A. (ed.), Readings in Translation Theory, Finn Lectura, Helsinki, pp. 99-104.

Koskinen K. 2000, Institutional Illusions, in “The Translator” 6 [1], pp. 49-65.

Krein-Kühle M. 2003, Equivalence in Scientific and Technical Translation. A Text-in-Context-based Study, University of Salford, UK.

Krein-Kühle M. 2014, Translation and equivalence, in House J. (ed.), Translation: A Multidisciplinary Approach, Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills/Basingstoke, pp. 15-35.

van Laer C.J.P. 2014, Bilingual legal dictionaries: comparison without precision?, in Mac Aodha M. (ed.), Legal Lexicography. A Comparative Perspective, Routledge, London/New York, pp. 75-87.

Magris M. 2018, Introduzione, in Magris M. (ed.), La banca dati TERMitLEX: un nuovo modello interdisciplinare per la terminografia giuridica, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, Trieste, pp. 7-21.

Mayer F. 2002, Sinonimia ed equivalenza, in Magris M., Musacchio M.T., Rega L. e Scarpa F. (eds.), Manuale di terminologia. Aspetti teorici, metodologici e applicativi, Hoepli Milano, pp. 115-133.

Newman A. 1994, Translation Equivalence: Nature, in Asher R.E. and Simpson J.M.Y. (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, Pergamon Press, Oxford/New York, pp. 4694-4700.

Newmark P. 1993, Pragraphs on Translation, Multilingual Matters, Clevedon/Philadelphia/Adelaide.

Nida E.A. and Taber C.R. 1969, The Theory and Practice of Translation, E.J. Brill, Leiden.

Nord C. 1997, Translating as a Purposeful Activity. Functionalist Approaches Explained, St. Jerome Publishing, Manchester.

Oettinger A.G. 1960, Automatic Language Translation: Lexical and Technical Aspects, With Particular Reference to Russian, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

van Opijnen M. 2016, Court Decisions on the Internet: Development of a Legal Framework in Europe, in “Journal of Law, Information & Science” 24 [2], pp. 26-48.

Paunio E. 2013, Legal certainty in multilingual EU law: language, discourse, and reasoning at the European Court of Justice, Routledge, London/New York.

Peruzzo K. 2019a, National law in supranational case-law: A linguistic analysis of European Court of Human Rights judgments in English, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, Trieste.

Peruzzo K. 2019b, When international case-law meets national law. A corpus-based study on Italian system bound loan words in ECtHR judgments, in “Translation Spaces” 8 [1], pp. 12-38.

Pym A. 2010, Translation and text transfer. An essay on the principles of cross-cultural communication, Intercultural Studies Group, Tarragona.

Reiss K. and Vermeer H.-J. 1984, Grundlegung einer allgemeinen Translationstheorie, M. Niemeyer, Tübingen.

Rogers M. 2007a, Lexical Chains in Technical Translation, in Antia B.E. (ed.), Indeterminacy in Terminology and LSP: Studies in Honour of Heribert Picht, John Benjamins, Amsterdam/Philadelphia, pp. 15-35.

Rogers M. 2007b, Terminological equivalence in technical translation: A problematic concept? St. Jerome and technical translation, in “SYNAPS” 20, pp. 13-25.

Rogers M. 2008, Terminological Equivalence: Probability and Consistency, in LSP Translation Scenarios. Selected Contributions to the EU Marie Curie Conference, pp. 101-108.

Rogers M. 2009, Terminology: a textual turn, in Albl-Mikasa M., Braun S. and Kalina S. (eds.), Dimensionen der Zweitsprachenforschung/Dimensions of Second Language Research. Festschrift für Kurt Kohn, Narr, Tübingen, pp. 217-226.

Sacco R. 1992, La traduzione giuridica, in Scarpelli U. e Di Lucia P. (eds.), Il linguaggio del diritto, Edizioni Universitarie di Lettere Economia Diritto, Milano, pp. 475-490.

Sager J.C. 2001, Terminology, applications, in Baker M. (ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, Routledge, London, pp. 251-258.

Sandrini P. 1996, Comparative Analysis of Legal Terms: Equivalence Revisited, in Galinski C. and Schmitz K.D. (eds.), TKE ’96: Terminology and Knowledge Engineering, Indeks Verlag, Frankfurt, pp. 342-351.

Sandrini P. 1999, Legal Terminology. Some Aspects for a New Methodology, in “Hermes, Journal of Linguistics” 22, pp. 101-111.

Šarčević S. 1997, New Approach to Legal Translation, Kluwer Law International, The Hague.

Schiavi S. 2017-2018, Le sentenze della Corte costituzionale tradotte in inglese: analisi della struttura e della terminologia, unpublished MA thesis, Department of Legal, Language, Interpreting and Translation Studies, University of Trieste, Trieste.

Shuttleworth M. and Cowie M. 1997, Dictionary of Translation Studies, Routledge, London/New York.

Snell-Hornby M. 1986, Übersetzen, Sprache, Kultur, in Snell-Hornby M. (ed.), Übersetzungswissenschaft. Eine Neuorientierung, Francke, Tübingen, pp. 9-29.

Snell-Hornby M. 1990, Dynamics in meaning as a problem for bilingual lexicography, in Tomaszczyk J. and Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk B. (eds.), Meaning and Lexicography, John Benjamins, Amsterdam/Philadelphia, pp. 209-226.

Snell-Hornby M. 2006, The Turns of Translation Studies. New paradigms or shifting viewpoints?, John Benjamins, Amsterdam/Philadelphia.

Temmerman R. 2000, Towards New Ways of Terminology Description: the Sociocognitive Approach, John Benjamins, Amsterdam/Philadelphia.

Tiersma P.M. 2008, The nature of legal language, in Gibbons J. and Turell M.T. (eds.), Dimensions of Forensic Linguistics, John Benjamins, Amsterdam/Philadelphia, pp. 7-25.

Vermeer H.-J. 1996, A Skopos Theory of Translation. Some Arguments For and Against, TEXTconTEXT-Verlag, Heidelberg.

Wagner A. and Gémar J.-C. 2013, Materializing notions, concepts and language into another linguistic framework, in “International Journal for the Semiotics of Law” 26 [4], pp. 731-745.

Wilss W. 1982, The science of translation: problems and methods, Narr, Tübingen.

Wilss W. 1992, Übersetzungsfertigkeit. Annährungen an einen komplexen übersetzungspraktischen Begriff, Narr, Tübingen.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.