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Translating into a new LSP

The translation of laws in the Republic of Cyprus

Stefanos Vlachopoulos

Epirus Institute of Technology, Greece

This paper deals with the translation of the English-language Common Law legislation of the Republic of Cyprus into Greek. The legislation introduced to Cyprus in 1935 was common law codified by the British for use in the colonies. The aim of the paper is threefold: (a) to research the historical background and highlight the communicative implications for a community where the language of the law is not the mother tongue of the people, (b) to reconstruct the methods the translators applied when they translated the Law of Civil Wrongs from English into Greek within the common law framework of the Republic of Cyprus, and (c) to establish how the actual process of translation affected the target LSP. Keywords: translation of laws, LSP, language of the law, Republic of Cyprus, common law, civil law, Greek, English

Introduction The law is an abstract construction we can only understand as part of the system it belongs to and the concepts inherent in it are the product of a historical process. This means that a different historical process will usually result in a distinctive system consisting of legal concepts with unique ramifications and as a consequence a unique vehicle, a unique language of the law (Vlachopoulos 2004: 100). Without language the understanding and conveyance of legal concepts is impossible. Texts are not a mere accumulation of words and phrases; through a particular need for communication they function as an organ of collective perception linked to a certain culture, which determines the way their meaning is produced and extracted (Koller 1992: 59). In other words, the stylistic means recruited to produce a certain text reflect the way of reasoning of the original text producer (Stolze 1992: 192).
Target 20:1 (2008), 103114. doi 10.1075/target.20.1.06vla issn 09241884 / e-issn 15699986 John Benjamins Publishing Company

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For the translation of legal texts and particularly for the translation of laws this means that the different legal reasoning in both legal traditions involved in the translation process, is mirrored in a varied selection of stylistic features on both sides of the cultural gap. The meaning of legal texts derives to a large extent from the legal system they are based in. This becomes even more lucid when legal concepts are compared, that belong to legal systems as different as the civil law and the common law. Such a comparison highlights that the deviant use of stylistic features used by the particular language of the law gives birth to laws of a unique stylistic texture. Laws shaped under different cultural circumstances result in languages that have a different stylistic inventory. E.g., the language of the common law and the drafting principles in common law countries yield different texts than the texts of legislation in the civil law systems.1 The fact that the law matures both historically and culturally is what makes translating legal texts and especially laws from one legal culture into another such a challenging task. Translating laws gets more demanding both legally and linguistically the more remote the legal systems and the respective languages are. Usually the translator encounters cases which lie between the following two extremes: translating into the same culture and into a target language very close to the source language; or translating into a culture lacking the source system concepts and a target language having no relation whatsoever with the source language.2 The latter is the situation the Cypriot translators faced when they translated the English language common law legislation of the Republic of Cyprus into Greek. As we will demonstrate below, the legislation introduced in Cyprus was common law codified by the British for use in the colonies. The aim of the paper is threefold: (a) to research the historical background and highlight the communicative implications for a community where the language of the law is not the mother tongue of the people, (b) to reconstruct the methods the translators applied when they translated laws from English into Greek within the common law framework of the Republic of Cyprus, and (c). to establish how the actual process of translating the Law of Civil Wrongs shaped the target LSP. 1. Historical overview Cyprus inherited common law from Britain quite late in history. Before the introduction of common law to Cyprus a wide variety of different legal systems which have operated over the years in various cultures, including those of France, Greece, Turkey and Britain, had been brought to the island. All of them had in some way affected the development of the present form of the law in force. In ancient times the legal system of Cyprus3 was based on the Greek one influenced, however, by

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eastern schools of legal thought such as those of neighbouring Syria and Egypt. It consisted of both written sources and custom. When the island was bought by the Franks in 1192, a feudal system of uncodified, custom-based law was introduced. When the island fell into the hands of the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman law was enforced. The Ottomans introduced a penal code based on the French one, a civil code and a land code covering most of the land law. The Sheri, courts administering Islamic and Ottoman law, and the ecclesiastical courts of the Greek Orthodox Church had, however, supreme authority in family matters exercising jurisdiction over Muslims and Christians respectively. When the British came to Cyprus in 1878, they left the division concerning the administration of the law in family matters intact and retained that form of the criminal law until 1928 the year the new form of the code still in force today was introduced. Soon after their arrival on the island the British established a new court structure. After the annexation of Cyprus by Britain in 1914 the people of Cyprus became British subjects but Ottoman law continued to be used; in some cases litigants had the right to choose to be judged either under Ottoman or under English law. In 1935 common law was fully introduced and its broader principles were applied. When Cyprus became independent in 1960, the Constitution provided that the laws previously applicable should remain in force. The introduction of the common law to Cyprus meant that the English precedent cases would extend their power to the island and that Cypriot courts would have to observe the decisions of the English courts. In order to overcome the difficulties that could arise from the introduction of case law to Cyprus, the British codified certain areas of the common law (Frantzeskakis et al. 1978: 391392). In 1959 the Civil Wrongs Law, the Contract Law, the Criminal Code, the Criminal Procedure Law and the Sale of Goods Law were codified. The Contract Law and the Sale of Goods Law were based on the Indian model. Frantzeskakis et al. (1978: 394) believe that it had been the codified common law in its organized, comprehensive and understandable form that allowed for an efficient administration of justice. 2. Interlingual legal communication in Cyprus Under British rule English was the sole official language4 but not the native language of the inhabitants. It was the language of the laws and of the courts something that had grave implications for a fair administration of justice. After independence the native languages of the major communities (Greek and Turkish) living on the island became the official languages of the Republic of Cyprus. In the realm of the law this brought about the following changes: The court procedure

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could still be conducted in English. However, the lawyers and the involved parties were free to use Greek; but since the judges were reluctant to use Greek and favored the English language, lawyers had to comply with the judges choice of language. Thus not only the Cypriot citizen but also the average Cypriot lawyer was deprived of unobstructed access to the law. Only legal professionals who had studied at an English law school had full access to the law (Frantzeskakis et al. 1978: 412). The full replacement of English by Greek in the court room could only be made feasible after the translation of Cypriot common law legislation; and since the translation of the laws made only very slow progress, the introduction of the Greek language into the court could not proceed at a faster pace. At that point the drawing up of Greek language court decisions on the basis of an English language common law precedent became a very challenging task. The degree of foreignness was so high that Frantzeskakis et al. (1978: 414) urged the judges in 1978 to get acquainted with Greek legal terminology and start speaking Greek in their professional capacity. Moreover, the legislation of the Republic of Cyprus had been drafted in Britain by non-Cypriots (most probably) ignorant of the culture of the people in Cyprus and having a British reality in mind. Its effect on a culture different from that of Britain combined with its remoteness from local customs was deemed to create legal conflict. According to Frantzeskakis et al. (1978: 392) the Contract Law and the Sale of Goods Law had been drafted initially for India under consideration of the local Hindu law. This means that even Indian sources have to be consulted for cases that come before Cypriot courts. Thirdly, the law of the Republic of Cyprus is not taught, either in Cyprus, or in Greece or in Britain; the establishment of a Law School at the University of Cyprus is being considered. The legal professionals practising in Cyprus study mostly in Greece, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Russia, Australia, Canada and South Africa, bringing home a different legal mentality. The translation of the English texts of the Cypriot laws into Greek has been a major project concerning the translation of legal texts in the Greek-speaking world. In accordance with the Law concerning the official Languages of the Republic ( 67/1988 ) the Law Commissioners Office of the Republic of Cyprus was assigned both the interlingual translation of laws written in English into Modern Greek and the intralingual translation of laws into Modern Greek which had been translated earlier from English into Katharevussa.5

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3. The process of translating laws in the Republic of Cyprus According to a report published in 1992 (YAEKN6 1992) the Office of the Law Commissioner translated and revised the laws, i.e. worked out any incongruence and adapted the translated laws to the provisions of the Constitution (YAEKN 1992: 326). In the said report the Law Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus provides the following guidelines for translating laws resulting from the offices experience: a. The translation of laws demands specialization and great caution, because the translated text will become the text of a law. As far as the terminology is concerned, the translated text has to be compared and examined by taking into consideration Greek law and the relevant terminology so as to ensure that the terms chosen reflect the legally correct meaning. b. For the above mentioned reasons the translator must know perfectly the Greek and the English legal systems and the relevant terminology. This should enable him/her at first to interpret the law and secondly to compare in order to render the original text correctly. c. The translated texts should be checked very carefully because any errors or omissions might have a severe impact on the interpretation and the application of the said law. After the text had been translated in accordance with the above guidelines, it underwent a revision by a team of two translators who were not involved in the translation of the law; the purpose of this level of consolidation was to ensure consistency. Afterwards the text was revised again by a second team of lawyers to check its conformity with the provisions of the Constitution (YAEKN 1992: 327 and 336). The same procedure was applied to the texts that had been translated intralingually into Modern Greek (YAEKN 1992: 329). The above record of the way the translation of laws was processed reveals an emphasis on the in-depth knowledge of the legal systems by the translators involved.7 The knowledge of the languages and/or of linguistic proficiency is neglected and language seems to be treated as something external of the law. The report lacks any reference to the method the translators used and to guidelines, if any, concerning the comparison of the meaning between source language and chosen target language terms in order to establish the degree of equivalence between the English common law term and a Greek civil law term (YAEKN 1992). Very important is the fact that the Greek legal system a civil law system and Modern Greek are referred to as a suggested pool for potential equivalents. A second publication, Terms, expressions and provisions of laws commonly used and translation thereof into Greek and miscellaneous other matters, issued by the Service

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for the Revision and Consolidation of Cypriot Legislation in 1989, provides advice about the correct use of Modern Greek in the law. As we will see below, the analysis of the Law of Civil Wrongs did not provide sufficient evidence that the language of the law as used in the Hellenic Republic had been consulted. Furthermore, the Law concerning the Official Languages of the Republic of 1993, a law regulating the interpretation of translated laws, suggests the following lexical adaptations: The terms (colony), (crown) should be changed into (Republic), (Her Majesty) becomes according to context either (Republic) or (Council of Ministers), (Governor) is on the grounds of functionality changed as well into Y . None of the documents cited goes into syntactic and textual matters. To their credit these guidelines urge the translator to adhere to a linear treatment of the source text; wherever the language of the law is meant, it seems to have been reduced to vocabulary; the focus is on an interlingual substitution of terminology, whereas syntax and textual properties are ignored completely. 4. The translation of the Law of Civil Wrongs A comparison of the Greek text of the Law of Civil Wrongs with the English source text provides insight into how the translator functioned. It allows us to see how the translators intervention shaped the language of the law in the target text and the way this affected various stylistic features of the language of the target legal culture. The examination of this particular law reveals (a) terms shared with the Greek Civil Code, (b) entirely different terms denoting concepts existing both in Greek and in Cypriot law, and (c) identical terms denoting different legal concepts. The shared terms are more general lexemes like (law/act), (law), (law suit). Many other terms are different, as in the case of the Greek terms and ; their meaning is denoted in Cypriot law by (ownership) and (owner/master), respectively. The Cypriot law uses identical terms denoting concepts different from those of the Greek law; this could easily yield faux amis in the process of translation: E.g. the noun , which as the following juxtaposition of the definitions reveals means different things:
In the Law of Civil Wrongs , . ( )

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master means the person who, in relation to another, has complete control of the way in which such other performs his work for such person. In the Greek Civil Code , , .8

In the Greek Civil Code the term is used to refer to the owner, while the common law as used in Cyprus uses the same term to refer to the master in the sense of the above definition. The translator used Greek lexemes of a more classicist nature like the verb (can/to be able to) which in the text of the Greek Civil Code has been replaced by a more common verb. Moreover, the noun as a translation of the English common law servant would be easily tolerated in the Greek Civil Code not only due to its denotative meaning but also due to its sociolinguistic associations. The subjective intervention of the translator seems to have influenced features of the Law of Civil Wrongs. In the case of the following section of the English language source text we read as follows:
4.  (1) No action in respect of any civil wrong shall be brought against Her Majesty.

In this text the wording Her Majesty is being used. This particular wording is omitted in the first translation into Katharevussa (1979) and the following footnote has been added to the translated text:
To A () 4, , .

According to this footnote, the provision that no action concerning a civil wrong can be brought against the Queen has been removed due to its constitutional incongruence. In the more recent second translation of the original English text, the one into Modern Greek (1992), the original provision was translated and retained as follows:
4.- (1) .

I assume that the omission and the retaining of the original wording mirror a personal attitude of the translator, since the constitutional provision had not been changed in the time between the two translations; the first translator possibly justified his/her choice to remove the formulation in question by the constitutional

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provision, whereas the translator of the more recent version did not call upon that provision and retained the original wording in his/her translation into Modern Greek. The translator may have used extralinguistic information to justify the exercise of linguistic power. Very unusual for the text of a law is the use of an English term in brackets next to a Greek one and a Greek lexeme in brackets next to another Greek term. In Section17 of the text the term is accompanied by the term hearsay, which is the common law term used in the English source text of 1959. In the first translation of the law into Katharevussa the Greek term is again accompanied by the English source text term. Despite the existence of a glossary at the end of the law this particular pair of equivalents has not been incorporated into the glossary. In Section58 the term is flanked by the English term bereavement in brackets. The part of this section where this particular term is used does not appear in the 1959 version of the original text and the brackets seem to be an addition which was made in the Greek language itself in the course of the revision and adaptation process. The same holds true for the term (weakening) in the same section that is followed by the lexeme in brackets. I have also identified an adverbial phrase which does not belong to Standard Modern Greek;9 in the third part of Section18 the wording has been used as a translation for the English lexeme otherwise. The translated text kept the syntactic features of the source text: The sentences of the source text are remarkably long in contrast to the length of the sentences in the Greek Civil Code. The sentence length remained unchanged in the translations:
Source text Provided also that, subject to the provisions of subsection (3) and (4) hereof, it shall be a defence to any action brought against any such servant that the act complained of was within the scope of his lawful authority. Katharevussa N (3) (4) . Modern Greek text , (3) (4), .

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The passive voice is still being used, where it could have been replaced by the plainer active voice (e.g. ), as happened with the Greek Civil Code, and no comma is used before the relative clauses introduced by the relative pronoun as would be the case in written Modern Greek discourse. The macrotextual structure is entirely different than the one of the Greek Civil Code or any other Greek law. The translator transferred the source text structures linearly into the target language. The text of the law as a whole is comprised of five parts divided into sections and subsections. The reader is informed about the contents of each part by a title in capital letters, while the content of the sections is summarized in the right margin next to the main text. 5. Translating laws: A digitalized task? The British mind drafting the original text of the Law of Civil Wrongs is the bearer of a certain legal tradition, since the stylistic means recruited to produce a certain text reflect the way of reasoning of the original text producer (Stolze 1992: 192). The drafters legal reasoning is mirrored in the use of a particular stylistic inventory in the English version of the Law of Civil Wrongs ensuring an appropriate legal effect in the source culture. The legal systems that interacted through translation do not belong to the same family of law; the translator had to deal with a common law text that had to be translated into a language of the law, that was non-existent at this initial phase. The target LSP came into being only through the actual process of translation. The original codified English common law text was translated into a culture void of a linguistic mechanism fit to communicate common law. Despite the fact that the Greek legal system and the Greek language of the law were a suggested pool for potential equivalents, there is no evidence that the equivalents scrutinized in an earlier section of this paper have been taken from the Greek Civil Code. The particular syntactic structure and the textual properties of the English original have been transferred linearly into the target system without the deployment of any cultural compensation. The English syntactic and textual structures have been transferred linearly into the Greek language, which is not familiar with this particular kind of syntactic and textual structure. The particular legal reasoning inherent in the stylistic source properties had been transplanted into the target culture without the provision of sufficient cultural countermeasures affecting the target LSP. The entire issue of translating the Cypriot common law from English into Greek has been regarded as an issue of hellenization. However, the use of the term hellenization is misleading; it promises much more than has been delivered in this

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case. The particular term would denote a process that grew historically out of the cultural roots of the system and which should go hand in hand with a gradual bottom-up maturing process of the law itself. The changes brought about in the translation of the laws in Cyprus did not go beyond the surface. The translation of the particular laws was restricted to the external form of the law and to a linear transfer of the source text structure into the target culture. This is why Frantzeskakis et al. (1978: 412) propose the use of the term language issue when referring to the translation of the Cypript laws. History repeats itself: Despite the non-solution of the Cyprus problem, the Government of the Republic of Cyprus allows Turkish Cypriots living in the occupied areas to move without limitations. This increased mobility of Turkish Cypriots into the free area of the Republic of Cyprus yields a growing demand for interlingual/intercultural communication services in all contact areas. The translation of laws and other legal texts into Turkish10 and the demand for community and court interpreting will rise. Despite the constitutional basis of its bilingualism, this has so far been implemented only partially; the influx of Turkish Cypriots into the non-occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus and a future solution of the Cyprus problem would turn the country into a fully bilingual entity like Canada and Switzerland by causing the widespread introduction of the Turkish language into the countrys administrative apparatus. We could not agree more with Franzeskakis et al. (1978) when they wrote that the solution to the language issue should not be the only target of the Cypriot law it should only be the most immediate one. Because even after the successful solution of this issue, it remains to turn the law into something the Cypriot people will consider their own. This holds true not only for the Greek language of the law but also for the Turkish common law language that will be born.

1. For a detailed discussion of the constraints of cultural divergence on the translation of legal texts see Vlachopoulos 2004. 2. For a detailed analysis of the scale of legal and/or linguistic remoteness in legal translation see de Groot 1993: 293295. 3. Neocleus & Co. (2000) provide a comprehensive introduction in English to the law in Cyprus. They also provide a detailed historical account (2000: 113). For a detailed account in Greek refer to Loukaidis (1982) and Frantzeskakis et al. (1978: 345482). 4. Frantzeskakis et al. (1978: 410414) provide a detailed account of the issues concerning the translation of the legislation and the use of the Greek language in the courtroom.

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5. An artificial form of the Greek language based on classical Greek. The Katharevussa was the official language of the Hellenic Republic and the Republic of Cyprus until 1976. See also Vlachopoulos (forthcoming). 6. Greek acronym for (Engl. Service for the Revision and Consolidation of Cypriot Legislation). 7. According to an oral communication with the former Law Commissioner of Cyprus G. Stavrinakis and YAEKN (1992: 326) the translators were legal professionals who were selected for this task having responded to a call to tender. 8. The owner of a thing may to the extent that he does not infringe the law or the rights of third party dispose at will of the thing and exclude any action thereon by another (Engl.). 9. Personally, I do believe that this adverbial phrase is dialectical. 10. The Civil Code of Turkey draws heavily on the Swiss one. For the translation of laws and legal texts in the Republic of Cyprus this means that the Greek language common law discourse would be translated into Turkish under the influence of the Turkish civil law language giving birth to a new Turkish common law language, a new LSP.

Frantzeskakis, Fokion, Dimitrios Evrigenis and Simeon Simeonidis. 1978. . Thessaloniki. Greek Civil Code ( ). 1987. Athens: . Groot, Gerard-Ren de. 1993. Recht, Rechtssprache und Rechtssystem. Terminologie et Traduction 3. 279316. Koller, Werner. 1992. Einfhrung in die bersetzungswissenschaft. Heidelberg und Wiesbaden: UTB. Loukaidis, Loukas. 1982. . Nicosia. Neocleus, Andreas & Co. 2000. Introduction to Cyprus law. New York: Yorkhill Law Publishing. Republic of Cyprus. 1959. Civil Wrongs. Republic of Cyprus. 2005. 1988 1997 ( ) ( ) 1993. Nicosia. Service for the Revision and Consolidation of Cypriot Legislation (YAEKN). 1979. ( ). Nicosia: Republic of Cyprus. Service for the Revision and Consolidation of Cypriot Legislation (YAEKN). 1989. Terms, expressions and provisions of laws commonly used and translation thereof into Greek and miscellaneous other matters. Nicosia. Service for the Revision and Consolidation of Cypriot Legislation (AEKN). 1992. 19871992. . Nicosia.

114 Stefanos Vlachopoulos Service for the Revision and Consolidation of Cypriot Legislation (YAEKN). 1995. ( ). Nicosia: Republic of Cyprus. Stavrakis, Argyrios. 1992. . Athens: . Stolze, Radegundis. 1992. Hermeneutisches bersetzen: Linguistische Kategorien des Verstehens und Formulierens beim bersetzen. Tbingen: Gunter Narr. aliadoros, Constantin. 1982. Greek Civil Code. Vlachopoulos, Stefanos. 2004. Translating the untranslatable?: The impact of cultural constraints on the translation of legal texts. John Gibbons, ed. Language and the law. New Delhi: Longman Orient, 2004. 100115. Vlachopoulos, Stefanos. forthcoming. Legal meanings across linguistic barriers: The intralingual and interlingual translation of laws in Greece and Cyprus. To appear in The international journal for the semiotics of law.

Larticle porte sur la traduction grecque de la lgislation en langue anglaise relative au droit coutumier en Rpublique de Chypre. La lgislation en question, introduite en Chypre en 1935, reprsentait le droit coutumier qui a t codifi et mis au point par les Britanniques pour tre utilis dans les colonies. Le but de larticle est triple: (a) tudier le contexte historique permettant de comprendre les implications sur le plan de la communication, au sein dune communaut o la langue de la loi nest pas la langue maternelle du peuple; (b) reconstruire les mthodes quutilisaient les traducteurs en traduisant la Law of Civil Wrongs en grec, compte tenu du cadre constitu par le droit coutumier en Rpublique de Chypre; (c) analyser les effets du processus de la traduction sur la langue de spcialit en grec.

Authors address
Stefanos Vlachopoulos Department of Applied Foreign Languages in Management and Commerce Epirus Institute of Technology 46100 Igoumenitsa Greece e-mail: or