This study examines equivalence in legal translation from the perspective of sociosemiotics. Legal translation, as linguistic transfer in the mechanism of law, is subject to both legal and linguistic systems. Although equivalence remains a crucial part in legal translation, exact equivalence can hardly be achieved in this transferring process. Thus, it means that the main task of translation is to resolve discrepancy in the meanings between source and target languages. The article revisits the concept of equivalence and discusses equivalence in legal translation and translation strategies from the perspective of sociosemiotics. Based on cases in legal translation practice, it is suggested that under the framework of translation semantic triangle, total equivalence could be attained. The study explores the complexities of legal translation from the perspective of sociosemiotics, thereby providing references for legal translation theory and practices. Differing from general translation, legal translation often faces the situation that a source language legal concept cannot be adapted to the target language. Yet from the perspective of law, in bilingual countries and regions such as Hong Kong, the European Union, and Quebec, Canada, languages must have the equal status, that is, be it a linguistic issue or a translation problem, exact equivalence must be realized in order to ensure language rights and language equality, which also remains a pivotal part of judicial equality. For both theorists and practitioners in legal translation, it is difficult to find a total equivalence. Due to differences between legal systems and languages, it is natural to encounter inconsistencies in terms of terminologies and concepts encoded in different languages under different legal systems. Thus, there are two research questions: Can translators create an exact equivalence or a precise linguistic form for a legal term in the source language if there is no exact equivalence in the target language? How does the translator choose an equivalence if there are multiple candidates as the linguistic form in target language? In the semantic triangle, there exists a dotted line between the sign vehicle and referent which indicates that symbols and ideas do not necessarily associate with one another. Therefore, in the initial stage of legal transplant or legal translation, it is natural that a sign (representamen) and its interpretation (interpretant) share the same sense. The development and settlement of an interpretant represents the development and evolution of law, whereas the evolving process of interpretant may differ from the route of its representamen, for the pair gradually accumulate meanings in different contexts respectively. To explore the complexities of this issue, based on cases in bilingual judgments of Hong Kong High Court, we find that in the process of legal transplant or legislation in a bilingual or multilingual legal system, the creation of equivalence is a process of sociosemiotic process rather than a linguistic or symbolic conversion. The sociosemiotic analysis of the self-made corpus shows that total equivalence in legal translation can be achieved at both theoretical and practical levels. Legal translation is a communicative act of contextualism, in which the referent and the reference represented by representamen contribute to a holistic organism. In the translation semantic triangle, representamen and interpretant refer to the same reference/sense. Because the sign does not have meanings itself, its meaning is endowed by the sign user in the discourse community, and the exact equivalence is therefore achieved through the use of a semantic reference scheme, metalinguistic functions and crime element analysis. Thus, in legal translation the creation of equivalence is not the behavior of individuals but a sociosemiotic switch of speech acts.
程乐 宫明玉 李俭. 社会符号学视角下法律翻译对等研究[J]. 浙江大学学报(人文社会科学版), 2016, 2(4): 60-70.
Cheng Le Gong Mingyu Li Jian. Equivalence in Legal Translation: From a Sociosemiotic Perspective. JOURNAL OF ZHEJIANG UNIVERSITY, 2016, 2(4): 60-70.