Corps de l’article
Institutional translation has been garnering much interest in the field of translation studies, especially given the increasing number of publications since the 1970s, despite most research being carried out within national settings (Covacs 1979). In fact, translation studies in intergovernmental organizations remain limited and, in this regard, the book under review contributes to filling this gap.
Edited by Fernando Prieto Ramos, a leading scholar in the field of legal translation and international organizations, this book gathers the findings of a project funded by the European Research Council under the coordination of the editor. It consists of 13 interrelated chapters divided into three parts.
Part 1, entitled Contemporary Issues and Methods contains three chapters. In the first chapter, Susan Šarčević (p. 9-24) focusses on the challenges that the institutional translators face and their role as transnational multilingual communicators. The author takes examples from the production of multilingual texts within the European Commission to highlight the main task of translators, which is: “to preserve the unity of the single instrument with the ultimate aim of promoting its uniform interpretation and application in practice” (p. 13). We can thus say that the challenge translators of legal texts face in institutional settings is to ensure consistency in terminology, i.e. internal harmonization of multilingual texts: “the greatest challenge to institutional legal translators is learning to go beyond surface-level similarity” (p. 23).
To overcome the above-stated challenge, the translator must have interdisciplinary skills and mastery of the subject matter. In this regard, Šarčević encourages translation schools all over the world to provide the necessary interdisciplinary training so that translators are equipped with the necessary skills to enable them to become transnational communicators and bring quality to institutional multilingualism.
In the same regard, the second chapter (p. 25-36), authored by Łucja Biel, investigates corpora in institutional legal translation. She highlights the evolution and importance of using corpus and technological tools in legal translation, for both practitioners and scholars, to generate resourceful terminological data. For practitioners, “corpus tool can improve the efficiency of the translation process thanks to fast information retrieval, precision of searches and contextualization of information with usage preferences” (p. 34).
Nonetheless, the author deplores the slow uptake of corpus tools by practicing translators, as illustrated in the different surveys she presents. The chapter equally highlights some of the new corpus tools that can be used by legal translators (especially JodGENTT, TermWise) and whose efficiency has already been tested and proven.
The last chapter in the first part of the book focuses on comparative law and legal translation. The author Jan Engberg considers the two disciplines to be complimentary when it comes to transferring knowledge. Based on frame semantics as an analytical framework, this last chapter attempts to describe and evaluate the terminological decisions the translator has to make when dealing with legal translation.
The second part of the book, entitled Translation Quality Assessment in Law-and Policy-making and Implementation, which is the longest part – and actually the core – of the book, is divided into six chapters, all dealing with translation quality as explicitly stated in the title.
In the first chapter of this second part, Ingemar Strandvic takes a ‘journey’ into the Directorate General for Translation (DGT) of the European Commission. As an insider and quality manager in this institution, the seasoned legal translator calls for a “more structured approach to quality assurance” so that the EU “speaks with one consistent institutional voice in each of the EU’s official languages” (p. 51). In a ‘six-stop’ journey, the author maps out a thorough landscape of the institution, its mission as concerns translation strategies (in-house and outsourcing) for quality assessment in relation to the ever fast-growing field of technology and machine-translation as well as the challenges that an institution like the EU faces.
After raising many questions with some proposed answers, Strandvic comes to the conclusion that “the translation industry and the translation profession at large are confronted with the same challenges, useful insights can be provided by the international standards on translation service provision” (p. 61-62).
For quality assessment to be more efficient in institutional translation, Anne Lafeber examines, in Chapter 5, the skills of translators and revisers at the EU and the United Nations (UN). In a questionnaire-driven survey, she identifies the various skills that are required of new recruits. She concludes that the “skills required for achieving quality are more than just language skills; they include analytical and research skills, as well as procedural knowledge” (p. 79).
In Chapter 6, Prieto Ramos and Diego Guzmán Bourdelle-Casals advocate that legal terminology consistency and adequacy should be quality indicators of institutional translation. Their comparative method of analysis focuses on translation patterns into Spanish over a period of fifteen years (2000-2015) within the framework of the LETRINT project. The corpus-based, holistic analysis (combination of lexicometric, that is quantitative and qualitative, methods) and the research question allow them to show how the term due process is translated into Spanish over the aforementioned interval of time.
The findings of the survey reveal that the use of a mixed-method, corpus-based research approach can be useful in highlighting textual patterns and skills in an international organization like the EU and the UN. Agnieszka Doczekalaska explores multilingual practices by comparing the EU and the Canadian legal systems through a comparative analysis in Chapter 7.
The chapter focuses on the similarities and differences of legislative multilingualism and drafting processes in Canada and the EU in terms of terminological choices.
Chapter 8 is authored by Colin Robertson, whose main interest is in legal-linguistic profiling as a translation aid. He aims to provide a “method for analysing multilingual and multicultural legal environment in which a text to be translated forms part” (p. 113). Like most of the previous contributors to the book, Robertson delves into one of the numerous EU agencies, namely the European Aviation Agency to carry out his research.
The last chapter of this second part (Chapter 9) is authored by Mathilde Fontanet. Here, the author discusses the translation of hybrid legal texts within the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) where she worked for more than two decades before switching to academics.
After a presentation of some taxonomic considerations on specialized and legal discourse, Fontanet uses parallel corpora made of hybrid legal-technical texts (agreements, safety rules and contracts adjudication) that she compiled from the CERN. According to the author, the results of analysing these texts reveal two possible situations: either one domain prevails, or both cohabit. She therefore concluded that “translators should ensure that there is absolute consistency between sub-technical vocabulary and terminology” (p. 138).
The third and last part of the book entitled Translation and Multilingual Case Law, brings together three chapters dealing with European Union Courts, namely the European Court of Justice and the European Court on Human Rights.
In Chapter 10, Suzan Wright presents the multilingual system in which the EU judiciary functions and the impact that this multilingual system has on the judgements rendered. In keeping with the same judiciary system within the EU, Aleksandar Trklja investigates the corpus of translation-generated diversity in Chapter 11. She operates under the assumption that “although EU law exists in different linguistic versions because of the ‘meta principle’ of uniformity (…), it is considered that all these linguistic versions have the same meaning” (p. 156). Therefore, according to Trklja, quality translation in the EU Court of Justice has been achieved.
The above analysis is based on all the decisions of the Court published in the following three languages until 2011: French, English and German. The results of this analysis leads to several important proposals.
James Brannan, in Chapter 12, is interested in the different characteristics of translation within the European Court of Human Rights. He specifically examines the balance between the Court’s policy and its practice showing that the European Court of Human Right (ECHR) has adopted its relevant policies which have advantages and difficulties related to having only two official languages (English and French).
The 13th and last chapter is written by Prieto Ramos and Lucie Pacho Aljanti, and in this chapter, the two scholars examine the interpretation of multilingual law in international courts in a comparative view and its patterns and implications for translation. They start with the assumption that “the existence of authentic texts in two or more languages can either complicate or facilitate the interpretation of a multilingual instrument” (p. 181). This comes from the comparative analysis that law interpretation problems cannot be totally solved in a multilingual context of text production, but translation can reduce divergences between different language versions “by ensuring accuracy and inter-linguistic concordance in the processes of multilingual text production” (p. 201).
The well-crafted structure and the variety of institutional translation aspects discussed in this book make it worth reading for scholars and professionals who are interested in how translation is carried out in supranational institutions. To sum up, this book definitely discusses and extends key issues on quality institutional translation developed in a previous collective book entitled Quality Aspects of Institutional Translation, edited by Svoboda, Biel, and Łoboda (2017), and the two are major contributions to terminology and quality assessment as far as multilingualism and translation are concerned in leading international organizations like the EU and its various bodies.
- Covacs, Alexandre (1979): Bilinguisme officiel et double version des lois. Un pis-aller: la traduction. Une solution d’avenir: la corédaction. Meta. 24(1):103-108
- Svoboda, Thomas, Biel, Lucja, and Loboda, Krzysztof (2017): Quality Aspects of Institutional Translation. Berlin: Language Science Press.