A Study of the Translation of English Legal Vocabulary under the Guidance of the Skopos Theory

Chunxu Qian (Ningbo University)


With the rapid development of society, most of countries around the world are all attaching importance to the construction of the rule of law. Many countries are drawing lessons from each others’ excellent legal achievements. Legal translation is an important branch of translation field and is playing an increasingly essential part in legal changes. With the deepening of China’s rule of law, China’s construction of legal system has stepped into a new phase. A large number of excellent Chinese legal documents are being translated into English, and many laws of Britain and America also have been translated into Chinese. The globalization of law has been an irreversible tendency. With the vigorous development of legal translation, how to correctly translate foreign legal achievements into Chinese has become a very arduous task for translators. The research field of legal translation includes the study of vocabulary, discourse, sentence and so on. The quality of translation of English legal vocabulary is key to deciding the quality of the whole translation of the legal text. Guided by the Skopos theory, which is a well-known theory put forward by German School of translation, the author makes a preliminary study on the translation of English legal vocabulary. By using and analyzing example sentences, the author makes summary about five characteristics of English legal vocabulary: common English vocabulary expressing legal meanings, use of ancient English vocabulary, parallel use of synonyms, use of modal verbs, use of professional terms and legal jargon. On the premise of conforming to the Skopos theory, four strategies of translating English legal vocabulary are summarized by the author according to these characteristics of English legal vocabulary, which are respectively fuzzy processing of English legal vocabulary, giving play to translators’ subjectivity, possessing consciousness of legal texts, correct use of domestication and foreignization. The author stresses the important role of translators’ subjectivity in the translation of English legal vocabulary, the correct use of domestication and foreignization and lastly links characteristics of English legal vocabulary, the Skopos theory and strategies of translation of English legal vocabulary effectively. The study has the certain innovation and reference significance in improving the quality of legal translation.


Skopos theory; English legal vocabulary; Strategies of translation

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.30564/ret.v4i1.2699


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