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The importance of Internet systematic search for legal translations

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The web is a vast and disorganised language resource which is often accessed too naively or superficially by students or inexperienced translators. In this paper, bachelor's students enrolled in a course in translation studies are challenged to translate an extract of a legal document. To complete their translation task, they consulted the language resources they felt comfortable with. Some of them asked for advice to external experts. This helped make the translation task real-life. Despite the language tools used, the students' shortcomings and mistranslations were several. In particular, formulaic expressions were neglected and too many literal or “fanciful” translation candidates were proposed. Afterwards, the students took part in a 2-h lesson where they understood how to consult the web effectively to find reliable information. This paper will highlight that a systematic approach to Google search is necessary in order to deliver high-quality translation work. In particular, advanced search must be performed, together with an accurate consultation of legal documents and of authoritative sources, such as experts' forums or sites.

Corresponding author: Patrizia Giampieri, University of Camerino, Camerino, Italy, E-mail:

Appendix Challenges of the translation task

For reasons of clarity and logic, the phrases reported in the following table are disposed according to their appearance in the source text.

Source textStudents' mistranslationsBack-translationsNumber (and percentage) of students mistranslating
Supplier AgreementAccordo di fornitura, contratto con il fornitore, condizioni generali di fornitura, condizione del fornitore, contratto del fornitoreSupply Agreement, Contract with the supplier, General Supply Conditions, Supplier's Condition, Supplier's Contract10 (37%)
Interest will be added to and payable on all overdue amountsInteresse, ulteriori interessi, interessi annuali esigibili, interessi versabili, interessi aggiuntiviInterest, further interests, payable annual interest, payable interests, additional interests19 (70%)
Interest will be added to and payable on all overdue amountsVi saranno degli interessi aggiuntivi, interessi verranno addebitati e erogati, interessi pagabili insieme all'importo dovuto, verrà aggiunto un interesse pari a.There will be additional interests, interests will be added and distributed, interests payable together with the due amount, an interest equals to will be added6 (22%)
Interest will be added to and payable (…) at x% of total chargesx%… dei costi totali, degli oneri complessivi, degli oneri totali, delle spese totali, dell'addebito totalex%… of the total costs, of the overall charges, of the total expenses, of the overall debited amounts19 (70%)
In addition to any other right or remedy provided by law if Customer fails to pay (…)Diritto o ricorso, quanto previsto dalla legge, diritto o tutela, strumenti cui ricorrere, diritto o provvedimento, diritto o risarcimento, diritto o garanzia, diritto o mezzo di tutela, diritto o azione, diritto o misuraRight or petition, what is foreseen by law, right or protection, tools to resort to, right or provision, right or liquidated damages, right or guarantee, right or means of protection, right or action, right or measure14 (52%)
If Customer fails to pay for the Goods when due, Supplier shall treat such failure to pay as a material breach of this agreementPotrebbe considerare, deve trattare, è tenuto a considerreCould consider, must treat, is bound to consider4 (15%)
If Customer fails to pay for the Goods when due, Supplier shall treat such failure to pay as a material breach of this agreementViolazione effettiva, violazione concreta, violazione grave, rottura di fatto, violazione sostanziale, causa di rescissione, causa di risoluzioneEffective violation, concrete violation, severe violation, factual break, substantial violation, reason for rescission, reason for cancellation17 (63%)
And may cancel this agreementCancellare, chiedere il recesso, annullare, rescindere, recedere, disdire, invalidare, sciogliereCancel (erase), ask for recession, annul, rescind, recede, call off, invalidate, dissolve22 (81%)
Supplier will arrange for delivery by carrier chosen by SupplierCorriere, mezzo di trasporto, modalità di trasporto, metodi di trasportoCourier, means of transport, transport modality, method of transport20 (74%)
Unless a notice of termination is sent per post within 15th of the month preceding terminationAvviso di conclusione, termine di preavviso, avviso, avviso di risoluzione, comunicazione di interruzione, notifica di rottura, preavviso di disdetta, notifica di cessazioneConclusion notice, notice term, notice, cancellation notice, interruption communication, break-up notification, termination warning, cessation notice10 (37%)
Within 15th of the month preceding terminationAlla fine della consegna, precedente la conclusione del contratto, prima della rescissione, antecedente la risoluzione, precedente il termineAt the end of the delivery, preceding the contract end, before rescission, before cancellation, before the end11 (41%)


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Published Online: 2020-06-05
Published in Print: 2020-05-26

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