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Volume 37, Issue 6


Hong Kong bilingual legislation and plain language drafting: A communicative approach

Clara Ho-yan Chan
  • Corresponding author
  • The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangdong, 518172, People’s Republic of China
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Published Online: 2018-05-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2017-0038


This paper proposes law drafting techniques, especially in Chinese, that aim to enhance the fluency and readability of Hong Kong bilingual legislation. The study is based on the plain language guide published by the Department of Justice of Hong Kong in 2012, with the goal of helping the current legislation to comply with the guidelines. Using data from seven recently-enacted ordinances, the analysis illustrates drafting techniques for their English and Chinese versions in accordance with the plain language guide published by the Department of Justice. This process is accomplished by suggesting revisions for relevant Chinese sections of legislation and their corresponding English sections according to contrasting aspects of English and Chinese grammars. The discussion will also evaluate the plain language drafting and the overall theoretical and philosophical trend of law drafting in Hong Kong, in light of the “Seven Standards of Textuality” proposed by de Beaugrande and Dressler. This is believed to be the first undertaking to study plain legal language against its official guidelines in the Hong Kong context.

Keywords: bilingual legislation; plain language drafting; communicative approach; Hong Kong; Chinese translation


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-05-03

Published in Print: 2018-10-25

This work was supported by Central Policy Unit, Funder Id: 10.13039/100010777, Grant Number: Public Policy Research Funding Scheme / 2014.A1.00

Citation Information: Multilingua, Volume 37, Issue 6, Pages 681–700, ISSN (Online) 1613-3684, ISSN (Print) 0167-8507, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2017-0038.

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