Translating Legal Texts: Adequacy or Acceptability? Implications for Teaching Legal Translation

Document Type: Original Article


Department of English, Faculty of Foreign Languages, University of Isfahan, Iran



Translation is almost always conducted within a certain socio-cultural framework with its particular ideology. In the present study, the application of various shift types in two legal translations was examined to show how socio-cultural and ideological inclinations of the translator affect adequacy and acceptability in translation. Two legal texts in English (the Geneva Interim Agreement and NPT) and their Persian translations released by IRI’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs formed the corpus of the study. The analysis of the translations indicated the lack of ideological and cultural shifts and the presence of structural and stylistic shifts. Legal texts are highly sensitive and need the utmost precision in their translation. These requirements could make ideological and cultural shifts out of the question in legal translation. The results, therefore, suggest that in legal translation training, attention should be devoted to structural and stylistic shifts.  As for the adequacy and acceptability, it was also observed that translated texts cannot be totally adequate or totally acceptable; the poles of adequacy and acceptability are on a continuum, and translators move between these two extremes.