1st Edition

Legal Translation and Bilingual Law Drafting in Hong Kong Challenges and Interactions in Chinese Regions

By Clara Ho-yan Chan Copyright 2020
    172 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    172 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Legal Translation and Bilingual Law Drafting in Hong Kong presents a systematic account from a cross-disciplinary perspective of the activities of legal translation and bilingual law drafting in the bilingual international city of Hong Kong and its interaction with Mainland China and Taiwan in the use of legal terminology.

    The study mainly examines the challenges posed to English-Chinese translation in the past three decades by elaborate drafting and terminological equivalence, and offers educational and research solutions. Its primary goals are to create legal Chinese that naturally accommodates common law concepts and statutes from the English legal system and to reconcile Chinese legal terms from the different legal systems adopted by Hong Kong, Mainland China and Taiwan. The new directions in legal translation and bilingual law drafting in Hong Kong will have implications for other Chinese regions and for the world.

    The book is intended for scholars, researchers, teachers and students of legal translation and legal linguistics, legal translators, lawyers and legal practitioners who are engaged in translation, as well as all persons who are interested in legal language and legal translation.

    Table of Contents


    List of tables and figures



    1 Introduction: about this book

    1.1 Background and purpose

    1.1.1 Legal translation in Modern China

    1.1.2 Legal translation in Hong Kong

    1.2 Review and framework

    1.2.1 Hong Kong: translation of English laws and bilingual law drafting for the 1997 change of sovereignty

    1.2.2 Mainland China and Taiwan: legal globalisation

    1.3 Terminology

    1.3.1 Legal Chinese

    1.3.2 Chinese legal terminology

    1.3.3 Legal translation

    1.4 Organisation and technicalities

    1.4.1 Structure and limitations

    1.4.2 Romanisation and convention

    2 Challenges in legal translation: a language perspective

    2.1 Europeanisation of Chinese

    2.1.1 Lexical changes

    2.1.2 Morpho-syntactic changes Affixation Conjunctions Pronouns Pre-nominal modifiers and embedding levels Passive voice Other types of syntactic change

    2.2 Europeanisation of legal Chinese

    2.2.1 Legislation Lexicon Syntax

    (i) Huo (或) (or) . . . huo (或) (or)

    (ii) Prepositions and prepositional phrases

    (iii) Underpunctuation

    (iv) ‘Empty verb’construction

    (v) Shi . . . de (是 . . . 的)/wei . . . de (為 . . . 的) construction

    (vi) Excessive use of nouns

    2.2.2 Judgments

    2.2.3 Legal documents

    2.2.4 Legal translation textbook

    2.2.5 Responses from different sectors

    3 Challenges in legal translation: a legal perspective

    3.1 ‘Equivalence’ in Hong Kong bilingual legal terminology

    3.2 Equivalence in Chinese legal terminology in three Chinese regions

    3.2.1 Five translation categories in terms of equivalence 1 (near equivalents)—one or more similar foreign source term(s) with same renditions of same/similar meaning Category 2 (near equivalents)—one or more similar foreign source term(s) with different renditions of same/similar meaning Category 3 (partial or non-equivalents)—one or more similar foreign source terms with different renditions of different meanings Category 4 (partial or non-equivalents)— different foreign source terms with different renditions of different meanings (partial or non-equivalents) Category 5 (non-equivalents)—mistranslation

    3.3 Case study of terminology in international agreements: intellectual property rights in Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong

    3.3.1 Introduction and methodology

    3.3.2 ‘Layout-design’, its Chinese translations and the measurement of equivalence (waiguan sheji (外觀設計) vs dianlu buju (電路布局(拓樸圖)) vs butu sheji (布圖設計(拓樸圖)) Mainland China: waiguan sheji (外觀設計) Taiwan: dianlu buju (電路布局(拓樸圖)) Hong Kong: butu sheji (布圖設計(拓撲圖))

    3.3.3 Summary and conclusion

    3.4 Concluding remarks

    4 Education in meeting challenges

    4.1 Education and training: theory and practice

    4.2 Broad and balanced approach: first lecture on legal translation

    4.2.1 A broad approach: legal systems, legal traditions and legal language

    4.2.2 A balanced approach: views on the Chinese legal system

    4.3 Interdisciplinary approach: language and law

    4.3.1 Case study: a legal knowledge-based translation course for Hong Kong translation students Background and aims Design and contents Feedback and reflections

    4.3.2 Case study: an English-Chinese glossary of terminology for Hong Kong law students Background and aims Design and contents Feedback and reflections

    4.3.3 Master’s programmes on language and law in three regions

    4.4 Training for legal professionals and legal translators

    4.4.1 Government law drafters

    4.4.2 Amini-survey: use of Chinese by lawyers and legal translators

    4.5 Concluding remarks

    x Contents

    5 Research in meeting challenges

    5.1 Major books and bilingual legal resources

    5.1.1 Research books

    5.1.2 Reference books

    5.2 Two potential research areas

    5.2.1 Enhancing language quality for bilingual legislation and judgments Co-drafting of bilingual legislation: plain language drafting Translation of judgments: Chinese proficiency and language style

    5.2.2 Comparative study of legal terminology and legal glossary compilation Relations with comparative law and existing works Framework for comparison

    6 Conclusion: trends and prospects

    6.1 Training practitioners with language and law skills: status of legal translation

    6.2 Research work on terminology comparison: ‘universal’ translation methods

    6.3 Epilogue: a new era with new visions

    6.3.1 Past experience

    6.3.2 Development for the future



    Clara Ho-yan Chan is Associate Professor of the School of Humanities and Social Science, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen. Her research interests focus on language and law, especially legal translation, legal terminology and bilingual law drafting.

    This book gives a comprehensive and systematic account of the multifaceted issues of legal translation and bilingual law drafting in the context of Hong Kong’s transformation from a unilingual to a bilingual legal system. It focuses on the variety of challenges confronting such transformation from the micro perspectives of language and law to the macro perspectives of education and research. As a legal translator and translation teacher myself, I have learnt a lot from it and would wholeheartedly recommend it as a must-read for anyone who wants to have a clear understanding of legal translation.

    --- SIN King-kui, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, UOW College of Hong Kong

    The development of a bilingual legal system in Hong Kong since the 1980s has posed important challenges for legal translation and legal drafting. This book provides a comprehensive study of the subject, drawing on the experience of mainland China and Taiwan in the use of the Chinese language. I think it is an extremely useful book for both general readers interested in the use of Chinese in Hong Kong law, as well as students and practitioners of English-Chinese legal translation and drafting.

    --- Professor Albert H.Y. Chen, Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong

    The importance of language in the context of law hardly requires elaboration. Hong Kong the only common law jurisdiction where legislation is enacted in both Chinese and English. Legislation aside, legal translation plays an important role in enhancing access to justice in Hong Kong. Viewed thus, his book by Professor Clara Chan is a helpful addition to the literature and research in this area, and will be an indispensable addition to the bookshelf of those interested in law and language.

    --- Rimsky Yuen, GBM, SC, JP, Barrister — Senior Counsel