Rethinking the English–Arabic Legal Translation Course: Restructuring for Specific Competence Acquisition

  • Sonia Asmahène HalimiEmail author


The standards for translating texts in specialized fields have become particularly rigorous with the increasing complexity of material and growing demand for its translation. While translations simply aimed at communication and produced by machine translation are proliferating, the need for reliable and high-quality translations is also increasing. The demand for expert-dependable legal translation is higher than ever, requiring competence-based training in the field of legal translation. This paper describes a guided-task framework for developing subject area competence at the earliest stage of an English–Arabic legal translation course. It presents the three most problematic phases of concept processing in legal translation in terms of: (a) legal systems; (b) branches of law; and (c) genre-based phraseology. The approach presented below is part of a more general study that aims to describe the first course in a series of three graduate courses on legal translation, each of them motivated by a guided-task framework that has the aim of developing three specific competences in legal translation: (a) legal concept processing => subject area competence; (b) documentary research => instrumental competence; and (c) legal rhetorics => communicative and textual competence. In this paper we intend to focus on the first course of legal concept processing as a key prerequisite for legal knowledge development. We illustrate the relevance of addressing specific variables (legal systems, branches of law and genre-based phraseology) when analysing legal concepts in the text that is to be translated, before proceeding to the information search and communication, according to established formulae and conventions.


English–Arabic legal translation Translation didactics Subject-area competence Legal Arabic concept processing Genre-based Arabic phraseology 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of TranslationFaculty of Translation and InterpretingGenève 4Switzerland

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