Studying Asian Law in Translation: Considerations of Comparative Legal Linguistics

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Date(s) - 02/10/2014
10.15 - 12.00

Porthania, University of Helsinki


The Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture warmly welcomes you to participate in its guest lectures series. The next lecture will be given by Professor Heikki E.S. Mattila on comparative legal linguistics.

Thursday, 2nd October 2014, 10:15-12:00

Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki

Porthania (Yliopistonkatu 3), 5th floor, room P545

No registration needed.

Studying Asian Law in Translation: Considerations of Comparative Legal Linguistics

Professor Heikki E.S. Mattila

Due to important economic and political changes in today’s world, the use of language is changing too, bringing with it significant consequences for the field of legal translation. As major Asian languages become more important globally, the demand for legal translations from these languages will continue to increase. However, Asian languages are, still today, comparatively less well-known by European researchers.  Therefore Asian law is often studied through translations into Western languages, mostly in English. It is therefore useful to discuss the issues linked to the use of translations in studying foreign law. In particular, it is important to ask what kind of background knowledge – comparative-law knowledge and legal-linguistics knowledge – is needed by foreign researchers to avoid misunderstandings. To better illustrate these problems in the case of Chinese law, two other major representatives of Asian legal cultures are used as parallels: India and Indonesia.

Heikki E.S. Mattila is Professor Emeritus of Legal Linguistics at University of Lapland and Docent of Comparative Law at the University of Helsinki.  He is a founding member of the International Language and Law Association as well as a member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. His research focus lies in comparative law and comparative legal linguistics, especially legal Latin and legal French, and in general questions of legal language, such as legal abbreviations. He is the author of the several monographs and articles on legal linguistics in Finnish, French and English, the most recent of which is the Comparative Legal Linguistics: Language of Law, Latin, and Modern Lingua Francas published in 2013.