LEGAL TRANSLATION CONFERENCE
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Jersey City, New Jersey · Hyatt Regency · May 2-4, 2003


French-Language Presentations


Atelier sur les prépositions en traduction juridique
45 minutes; Language-French and English
Louis Beaudoin

Le langage juridique-et, partant, le langage judiciaire-se singularisent notamment par un emploi particulier-voire insolite aux yeux du profane- des prépositions dans certains tours, syntagmes ou locutions figées. On songe par exemple à des locutions comme " (rémunération) ouvrant droit à (pension) " (notons l'absence d'article devant le substantif pension) ou " à peine de (nullité) ", ester en justice, signification à personne, donation à cause de mort, etc.

Une des particularités du discours juridictionnel est l'importance toute particulière qu'y revêtent la phraséologie et la stylistique (tout common lawyer songera spontanément au style si particulier des jugements du regretté lord Denning!).

Le traducteur ou la traductrice juridique se doit donc, non seulement de bien connaître les tours et expressions propres au vocabulaire judiciaire, mais également de maîtriser l'emploi des prépositions. Sous l'influence de l'anglais, certains traducteurs et rédacteurs emploient abusivement ou à tort certaines prépositions. On pense par exemple au réflexe de certains traducteurs de recourir systématiquement à la préposition sous comme équivalent de l'anglais under pour exprimer un renvoi à une norme juridiquement obligatoire (loi, contrat, etc.).

Le tableau suivant se veut un relevé non exhaustif en contexte de quelques prépositions couramment employées dans les textes juridiques.

Systemic and Linguistic Specificities of Legal Languages: A Case in Point-Legal Translation in Canada
45 minutes; Language-French and English
Louis Beaudoin

In bilingual countries like Canada, bijuralism and official bilingualism represent considerable challenges for lawyers. How does one translate common-law concepts into French when they have evolved over the centuries in English? The Anglophone lawyer in Quebec, coping with a code directly inspired by the Napoleonic Code, confronts a similar issue. This raises the question of the specific nature of the legal vernacular. In other words, must the common law be expressed only in English and the civil law only in French? Are legal systems inextricably linked to the language in which they were conceived?

D'autre part, quelles sont les contraintes juridiques?respect du droit positif?et linguistiques?phraséologie, cooccurrence, syntaxe?dont le juriste qui traduit des textes de common law de l'anglais au français doit tenir compte et quelles sont les ressources dont il dispose pour produire des textes à la fois fidèles au texte de départ et conformes au génie de la langue française?

Law is not an exact science. It is entirely dependent on discourse and, hence, words. This presentation will explore some of the issues associated with the coexistence of different legal systems and different languages in the Canadian courts. More specifically, this presentation will examine some of the linguistic and legal constraints imposed on the formulation of the law. Handouts and overheads will be used for this presentation.

A Comparative Look at the Legal Systems in France and the U.S.
90 minutes; Language-English
Robert L. Smith

This presentation begins by examining a diagram of the judicial hierarchy in France and comparing it to the hierarchy of the federal and state courts of the U.S. The U.S. has one "Supreme Court" at the top of its judicial hierarchy; France has two separate hierarchies, the ordinary civil courts and the administrative courts, each capped by its own supreme court. France can be said to have three "Supreme Courts": the Cour de cassation, the Conseil d'état, and the Conseil constitutionnel. Special historical factors have led France to limit the power of judges. Legalization of abortion by a "Supreme Court" decision simply could not occur in France. The U.S. Supreme Court has much greater power than the Cour de cassation.

Problems arise for the translator because each court in France has special terms associated with it. Further adding to terminology problems are numerous false friends and the dissimilarities between the two systems. A number of problem terms will be examined: pourvoi en cassation, recours en appel, prévenu/accusé, relaxer/acquitter, ordre judiciaire, jugement en dernier ressort, jugement en premier ressort, souveraine, magistrate/juge/conseiller, demandeur/requérant, appelant/l'intimé, question préjudicielle, décision/arrêt/ jugement, jurisprudence.

In France, is the accused "guilty until proven innocent?" The actual experience of attending a criminal trial in France will be described while paying special attention to the differences of a U.S. criminal trial (i.e., the role of the investigating judge, absence of plea bargaining, jury selection, the predominant role of the presiding judge, the inclusion of the defendant's past criminal record, and the lack of a separate sentencing phase).

How do the French and Americans regard each other? In France, there is strong disapproval of the death penalty as administered in the U.S., skepticism about the adversarial system, and confusion due to the varying laws of the different states. For most Americans, there is a belief in the superiority of the common law and an adversarial system. The translator, as cultural mediator, should at least understand the sources of these attitudes.

This presentation will be accompanied by handouts including diagrams of the court hierarchy in France and the U.S., a glossary of problem terms, diagrams of the criminal justice procedure in France and the U.S., a newspaper article describing an armed robbery trial that occurred in France, op-ed piece from Le Monde condemning capital punishment in the U.S., and a two-page bibliography.


Atelier sur la cooccurence en traduction juridique
90 minutes; Language-French
Louis Beaudoin

Dans un contexte de domination de la langue anglaise, le juriste et le traducteur anglais-français est confronté à une double difficulté: communiquer le sens de principes séculaires qui ont été pensés, conçus et élaborés en anglais et rédiger des traductions dans un français correct, élégant et respectueux du génie de la langue française.

Cet atelier éminemment pratique s'adresse aux traducteurs et aux juristes appelés à rédiger des textes en français ou à traduire de l'anglais au français des documents dans un contexte bilingue de common law.

Les participants auront l'occasion de se pencher sur certains problèmes courants que pose la coexistence de deux langues et de deux systèmes juridiques dans un pays comme le Canada.

Workshop on French Corporate Law
90 minutes; Language-French and English
Thomas L. West III

The presentation will focus on the differences between corporate law in the U.S. and the law governing "sociétés" in France. This presentation will consider how an annual shareholders' meeting in the U.S. is similar to an "assemblée générale ordinaire" in France and how it is different; how a board of directors differs from a "conseil d'administration"; how shareholders' preemptive rights differ from rights of first refusal; how a "dénomination sociale" differs from a "raison sociale"; etc.

How Napoleonic Codes Work: A French Point of View
180 minutes; Language-English
Henry Saint Dahl

This presentation will be based on the French and English dictionary Dahl's Law Dictionary (Dictionnaire Juridique Dahl), written by the speaker and published in 2001.

A list of crucial French terms and their definitions in English will be distributed to the attendees. The chosen terms encapsulate important distinctions between the civil-law system (represented in this case by French law) and the common-law system. Sometimes a group of several French words and expressions will be treated jointly. Alternatively, French words and expressions will be explained individually.

· Examples of a group of words that can be explained jointly:

Actes de commerce
Commerçant
Commerçant, enregistrement comptable
Commerçants, immatriculation
Droit commercial

The cluster of these words and their corresponding definitions explain how a transaction is considered to be of a "commercial" or of a "civil" nature under the French legal system. The distinction is crucial because different set of rules apply depending on the category.

· Example of words or phrases that can be explained individually:
Contrats spéciaux

This definition helps to explain how U.S. law differs from French law in the way it classifies contracts. French law includes special rules for specific types of contracts while the U.S. legal system prefers to treat them in a general way.

The purpose of this presentation is to provide the audience with a general description of French legal terms that differ the most from U.S. law. A better understanding of these crucial differences will be helpful in translating text from one language to the other and should also be useful for strengthening legal vocabulary. The materials to be distributed are conceived as a source, not only for the lecture in question, but also as a reference that the translator can refer to later on for help in specific areas.


Language-Neutral Presentations

German-Language Presentations

Portuguese-Language Presentations

Russian-Language Presentations

Spanish-Language Presentations

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