The Sound of Drivel

Interpreters and the Manipulation of Style in the Legal Discourse

Jessica Pérez-Luzardo Díaz 1  and Víctor González-Ruiz 2
  • 1 Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
  • 2 Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
Jessica Pérez-Luzardo Díaz and Víctor González-Ruiz


This paper describes an experiment dealing with the manipulation of style in consecutive interpreting in the context of the law. In it, several groups of Spanish law undergraduates assessed two performances by a consecutive interpreter. The interpreter in both performances translated a German-language lecture on constitutional law into Spanish, the only difference between the two renditions being the style used in the target language: in one of them, plain language; in the other, a style reminiscent of complex traditional legal drafting. The results of this study are presented and discussed in this paper, which combines the issue of plain language in legal translation and interpreting, with the concept of style as a quality parameter in interpreting. These results, which suggest that even the most junior law students have a liking for conventional elaborate drafting, should serve as elements of reflection for trainers of both legal professionals and interpreters.

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Since its founding in 1956, Lebende Sprachen [Living Languages] has been the leading German journal for foreign languages in research and practice. It contains articles and reviews on language in general and also covers topics on specific languages and cultures, living languages and the life of language.