Legal Translation as an Act of Communication: The Translation of Contracts between English and Arabic

Discussion Committee: 
Dr. Abdul Kareem Daragmeh- Chairman
Dr. Nabil Alawi- Co-chairman
Dr. Qustandi Shoumali- External Member
Dr. Akram Dawoud- Internal Member
Abdul Kareem Daragemeh
Maram Tawfiq Awad Fakhouri
The importance attached to the letter of the law has meant that most studies of legal translation have been devoted to questions of terminology, while pragmatic and functional considerations tend to be disregarded. The purpose of the present study is to display how pragmatic and functional considerations have an important role in legal translation and should be taken into account when determining translation strategies. The representative data was in the form of three authentic contracts written in Arabic. These are a Real-Estate Sales Contract, a Lease Contract and an Employment Contract. Each text was translated by three certified legal translators from English into Arabic to produce nine different versions. A comparison was made of how each translator approached problematic areas of legal translation in all nine texts. After that, the study explored the applicability of Speech Act theory to legal translation by comparing the translation of regulative acts in all nine texts. As for the translation from English into Arabic, a group of graduate students studying applied Linguistics and Translation at An-Najah National University were asked to translate a "Power of Attorney" text as an assignment. In addition, a professional translator was commissioned to translate the same text. They were all asked to translate this text twice: once as part of a Legal thriller novel and another as a classified newspaper advertisement. The translated versions were scrutinized for ability to perform these new functions in the target language. The study has shown that the application of pragmatic and functional perspectives to legal translation can provide valuable insights to the translator, reinforcing the premise that legal translation is essentially an act of communication.
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