3. The tension between adequacy and acceptability in legal interpreting and translation

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For over a century, English was the only language in which law was practiced in Hong Kong, yet the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997 has made legal bilingualism inevitable. In translating existing laws into Chinese, the Law Drafting Division emphasises the need to establish a semantic mapping between the Chinese statutes and their English counterparts, and to strive for both adequacy and acceptability when selecting a Chinese term or expression to represent a common-law concept. This paper examines how legal translators and interpreters resolve the tension between adequacy and acceptability, and concludes that the effort to achieve adequacy at the expense of acceptability may not always pay off.


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