The Quality of Legal Dictionaries: An Assessment

January 6, 2020
Miranda LebenstainMiranda Lebenstain
Contemporary Business Team

In this article, the quality of the different bilingual legal dictionaries between the languages of the Member States of the European Union will be assessed. In order to do so, some general remarks will be made first about problems with translating legal terminology. Based on those remarks, criteria for reliable bilingual dictionaries will be formulated in the next section. Finally, these criteria will be applied on the available bilingual dictionaries containing the legal language used by one or more EU Member States. To illustrate this, we have attached an updated bibliography encompassing about 200 recently published bilingual and multilingual legal dictionaries in the European Union.

The bibliography in the Annex will be the evidence for our final conclusion that most legal dictionaries must be classified as a word list, which implies here that they are of dubious quality. To date, few legal dictionaries have attempted to meet our criteria. Dictionaries that are based on comparative legal research, on the other hand, offer advantages that render them useful to professional translators.

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January 6, 2020

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