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Legal Translation in South Africa

Today I had the privilege of conducting a workshop on legal terminology in Afrikaans and English for the South African Translators' Institute in Cape Town. We discussed the characteristics of legal English, how legal terminology differs from one English-speaking jurisdiction to another, "false friends" between Afrikaans and English, Latin phrases used in legal Afrikaans and legal English, and hidden meanings in legal English.

After a break for a strong cup of tea, we discussed civil procedure in South Africa and looked at the terminology used in English and in Afrikaans. Because South Africa is a mixed jurisdiction, with elements of both the English common law and the Roman-based legal system of the Netherlands, the terminology is particularly fascinating (and challenging for translators). I was impressed with the translators' enthusiasm and their love for the Afrikaans language and hope to be able to return to Cape Town one of these days.

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