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Ambiguity in Legislative Language and Translator’s Interpretation —Deung(etc.), Muit(and), and Centered Dot(·) in Korean Statutes—

Yoo, Jeong Ju 1

1이화여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Legislative texts usually have ambiguous or vague formulations that might be the product of political compromises or legislator’s neglect. Practicing lawyers and judges are professionally engaged in interpreting the legislator’s intent, thus establishing the ambiguous or vague meaning of texts for application in courts. It is generally agreed that the translator has no authority to interpret uncertainties in legislative texts, since the translator is believed to have no ability to ascertain the intended meaning of the source text. However, in the actual translation process, the translator is often faced with cases that require interpretation of uncertainties in lexical and syntactic units of statutory texts. This is often the case with translators producing English translation of the Statutes of the Republic of Korea. Korean legislators use more abbreviated expressions such as deung(etc.) than legislators working under the common law system, or everyday or nontechnical vocabulary the semantic range of which is different from that of its common usage, such as muit and centered dot(·). This legislative practice might increase the risks of misinterpretation or mistranslation by Korean legal translators. In order to reduce the unnecessary burden of interpretation that is imposed on translators, Korean legislative drafters should be more cautious in using ambiguous expressions obstructing translator’s systematic understanding of texts.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.