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Language Acquisition; Translation: Specialization Course: Legal Translation I

Course 2010-2011

Admission Requirements



Translating legal texts is a difficult, but fascinating exercise. The legal translator has to overcome the same problems confronting any translator. But in addition, legal texts are often complicated and difficult to understand for the layman, which the legal translator often is. Then there are the fundamental differences between Anglo-American law and that of the European Continent. Legal translators have to work accurately and errors may have dire consequences. The translator also needs to be creative, as many Dutch legal terms cannot be found in a dictionary.
The aim of this first part of the Legal Translation specialization course (the second part is offered in the Spring Semester) is to provide its participants with the knowledge and skills they need to translate legal texts from Dutch to English and vice versa. The teaching consists of lectures and tutorials. In the lectures, we draw a comparison between the legal systems of the Netherlands and England and Wales and the United States, insofar as this comparison is relevant for legal translators.
Furthermore, participants are introduced to the stylistics of legal texts. In the tutorials, students will bring their newly acquired knowledge and skills into practice in a number of short assignments. Furthermore, they will explore and work with translation tools.

Course Objectives

  • Knowledge and understanding of the law of the Netherlands, the United States, and England and Wales, insofar as this is relevant for the legal translator
  • Knowledge of legal stylistics
  • Knowledge and understanding of methods of comparative law, insofar as this is relevant for the legal translator
  • Ability to apply one’s knowledge and understanding of law, stylistics and comparative law to pre-translation analysis of legal texts
  • Ability to work with reference tools relevant for the legal translator


The timetable will be available from July 1 onwards on the Department website.

Mode of Instruction

One one-hour lecture, and one two-hour tutorial per week.


  • Presentations and class participation (25%)
  • Average mark of the short written assignments (25%)
  • Written tests, including short midterms (50%)


This course is supported by Blackboard.

Reading list

  • Barker, D.L.A. (2007). Law made simple. Oxford: Elsevier.
  • MA Legal Translation I. [Texts and assignments available on Blackboard]
  • Loonstra, C.J. (2009). Hoofdlijnen Nederlands recht. Groningen: Noordhoff.
  • Schulze, E. & Patterson, S.R. (2005). Introduction to the American legal system. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.
  • Slapper, G. (2007). How the law works. London: Collins. [To be read before the course starts]


Students can register through uSis.

Register for ‘Contractonderwijs’ via:

Contact information

English Department, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103c. Phone: 071 527 2144, or mail: