translation universals
legal translation
parallel Spanish-English corpus
Tribunal Constitucional

How to Cite



Research into ‘translation universals’ in legal translation is a relatively new field, which still needs to be expanded with further empirical studies. The few studies conducted so far fall into two main categories: a) analyses that explore the typical features of European legalese as translated language against national legal language; b) studies based on corpora of national legal language translated into other national languages (see Pontrandolfo 2019a:20-22).

The present paper is framed within the second category and aims at contributing to the academic debate on translation universals applied to legal language; more specifically, it aims at testing the methodology adopted to study translation universals on a bilingual parallel corpus of judgments delivered by the Spanish Constitutional Court (Tribunal Constitucional, TC) translated for informative purposes into English.

The corpus-based analysis, carried out mainly quantitatively, includes the comparison with a larger corpus of original judgments delivered by the UK Supreme Court (UKSC) with the final objective of testing some indicators of simplification, explicitation, normalisation, levelling out, interference, untypical collocation (see Zanettin 2012: 11-25).

Preliminary results are promising, even though it is not possible to identify robust and homogeneous trends.



Alcaraz Varó, Enrique & Hughes, Brian. 2002. Legal Translation Explained. Manchester/Northampton: St. Jerome Publishing.

Baker, Mona. 1993. “Corpus Linguistics and Translation Studies. Implications and Applications”. In M. Baker, G. Francis and E. Tognini-Bonelli (eds.) Text and Technology. In Honour of John Sinclair, Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 233-250.

Baker, Mona. 1996. “Corpus-based Translation Studies: The challenges that lie ahead” in Somers, H. (ed.) Terminology, LSP and Translation: Studies in Language Engineering in Honour of Juan C. Sager, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 175-178.

Biber, Douglas; Johansson, Stig; Leech, Geoffrey; Conrad, Susan; Finegan Edward. (1999) Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. London: Longman.

Biel, Łucia., 2015. “Phraseological profiles of legislative genres: complex prepositions as a special case of legal phrasemes in EU law and national law”. Fachsprache — International Journal of Specialized Communication, 37(3-4), 139-160.

Chesterman, Andrew. 2004. “Beyond the particular”. In A. Chesterman and P. Kujamäki (eds.) Translation Universals. Do they exist? Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 33-49.

CMLJ (Comisión de Modernización del Lenguaje Jurídico). 2011. Estudio de campo: lenguaje escrito.

Corpas Pastor, Gloria. 1996. Manual de fraseología española. Madrid: Gredos.

Corpas Pastor, Gloria. 2008. Investigar con corpus en traducción: los retos de un nuevo paradigma. Bern: Peter Lang.

Corpas Pastor, Gloria; Mitkov, Ruslan; Afzal, Naveed; Pekar, Viktor. 2008. “Translation universals: do they exist? A corpus-based and NLP approach to convergence” in Zweigenbaum, P.; Gaussier, E. & Fung, P. (eds) Proceedings of the Workshop on Building and Usinf Parallel Corpora, Marrakech, Marocco (LREC 2008), Parigi: ELRA, 1-6.

Franceschini, Veronica. 2020. Universali traduttivi e traduzione giuridica: un’analisi basata su un corpus parallelo di sentenze del Tribunal Constitucional. [Supevisor: G. Pontrandolfo], MA unpublished thesis. University of Trieste.

Frawley, William. 1984. “Prolegomenon to a theory of translation” in Frawley, W. (ed.) Translation. Literary, Linguistic and Philosophical Perspectives, Newark: University of Delaware Press, pp. 159 175.

Gellerstam, Martin. 1986. Translationese in Swedish novels translated from English. Translation Studies in Scandinavia. Lund: CWK Gleerup.

Göpferich, Susan. 1995. Textsorten in Naturwissenschaften und Technik. Tübingen: Narr Verlag.

Hernando Cuadrado, Luis Alberto. 2003. El lenguaje jurídico, Madrid: Verbum.

Kilgarriff, Adam; Baisa, Vit; Bušta, Jan; Jakubíček, Miloš.; Kovář, Vojtěch.; Michelfeit, Jan; Rychlý, Pavel; Suchomel, Vit. 2014. “The Sketch Engine: ten years on”. Lexicography, 1: 7-36.

Laviosa-Braithwaite, Sara. 1996. The English Comparable Corpus (ECC): a resource and a methodology for the empirical study of translation. Ph.D. Thesis. Manchester: Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies, UMIST.

Mauranen, Anna. 2000. “Strange Strings in Translated Language. A Study on Corpora”. In M. Olohan (ed.) Intercultural Faultlines. Research Models in Translation Studies 1. Textual and Cognitive Aspects, Manchester/Northampton: St. Jerome Publishing, 119-

Mauranen, Anna. & Kujamäki, Pekka. (eds.) 2004. Translation Universals. Do they exist? Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benhamins.

Mauranen, Anna. 2006. “Translation Universals”. In K. Brown (ed.) Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, vol. 13. Oxford: Elsevier, 93-100.

Mauranen, Anna. 2008. “Universal Tendencies in Translation”. In G. Anderman and M. Rogers (eds.) Incorporating Corpora: the Linguist and the Translator. Buffalo/Toronto: Clevendon, 32-48.

Olohan, Maeve. (ed.) 2000. Intercultural Faultlines. Research Models in Translation Studies 1. Textual and Cognitive Aspects, Manchester & Northampton: St. Jerome Publishing.

Olohan, Maeve. 2004. Introducing Corpora in Translation Studies. London: Routledge.

Pontrandolfo, Gianluca. 2016. Fraseología y lenguaje judicial. Las sentencias penales desde una perspectiva contrastiva. Roma: Aracne.

Pontrandolfo, Gianluca. 2019a. “Corpus Methods in Legal Translation Studies” in Biel, L.; Engberg, J.; Martín Ruano, R.; Sosoni, V. (eds.) Research Methods in Legal Translation and Interpreting: Crossing Methodological Boundaries. London/New York: Routledge,13-28.

Pontrandolfo, Gianluca. 2019b. “Gerundios ‘revelando’ normalización en el lenguaje judicial español: consideraciones a partir del corpus JustClar” en Orillas 8/2019, 725-749.

Pontrandolfo, Gianluca. .2020, in press. “National and EU judicial phraseology under the magnifying glass: a corpus-assisted analysis of complex prepositions in Spanish” in Perspectives, Studies in Translation Theory and Practice, vol 28.

Portolés, José. 2001. Marcadores del discurso, Barcelona: Ariel.

Redelinghuys, Karien. 2016. “Levelling-out and register variation in the translations of experienced and inexperienced translators: a corpus-based study” Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics, 45/2016, pp. 189-220.

Schäffner, Christina. & Adab, Beverly. 2001. “The idea of the hybrid text in translation: Contact as conflict” in Across Languages and Cultures, 2(2)/2001, pp. 167-180.

Scott, Mike. 2008. WordSmith Tools v. 5, Liverpool: Lexical Analysis Software.

Swan, Michael. 2005. Practical English Usage. Oxford: OUP.

Teich, Elke. 2003. Cross-linguistic Variation in System and Text: A Methodology for the Investigation of Translations and Comparable texts. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Toury, Gideon. 1995. Descriptive Translation Studies and Beyond. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Trosborg, Anna. 1997. “Translating hybrid political texts” in Trosborg, A. (ed.) Analysing Professional Genres, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 145-158.

Zanettin, Federico. 2012. Translation-driven corpora. Corpus resources for descriptive and applied translation studies. Manchester: St. Jerome.

When submitting a paper the author agrees to the following publishing agreement and processing personal data.


This is a publication agreement and copyright license (“Agreement”) regarding a written manuscript currently submitted via Pressto platform

 (“Article”) to be published in Comparative Legilinguistics International Journal for Legal Communication (“Journal”).

The parties to this Agreement are:

the Author or Authors of the submitted article (individually, or if more than one author, collectively, “Author”) and Comparative Legilinguistics International Journal for Legal Communication (“Publisher”), address al. Niepodległości 4, 61-874 Poznań, represented by its editor in chief Aleksandra Matulewska.


a)     The Author and the Publisher agree that the Author grants a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which is incorporated herein by reference and is further specified at Creative Commons — Attribution 4.0 International — CC BY 4.0 copyright license in the Article to the general public.

b)     The Author grants to the Publisher a royalty-free, worldwide nonexclusive license to publish, reproduce, display, distribute, translate and use the Article in any form, either separately or as part of a collective work, including but not limited to a nonexclusive license to publish the Article in an issue of the Journal, copy and distribute individual reprints of the Article, authorize reproduction of the entire Article in another publication, and authorize reproduction and distribution of the Article or an abstract thereof by means of computerized retrieval systems (such as Westlaw, Lexis and SSRN). The Author retains ownership of all rights under copyright in the Article, and all rights not expressly granted in this Agreement.

c)     The Author grants to the Publisher the power to assign, sublicense or otherwise transfer any and all licenses expressly granted to the Publisher under this Agreement.

d)     Republication. The Author agrees to require that the Publisher be given credit as the original publisher in any republication of the Article authorized by the Author. If the Publisher authorizes any other party to republish the Article under the terms of paragraphs 1c and 1 of this Agreement, the Publisher shall require such party to ensure that the Author is credited as the Author.


a)     The Author agrees that the Publisher may edit the Article as suitable for publication in the Journal. To the extent that the Publisher’s edits amount to copyrightable works of authorship, the Publisher hereby assigns all right, title, and interest in such edits to the Author.


a)     The Author represents and warrants that to the best of the Author’s knowledge the Article does not defame any person, does not invade the privacy of any person, and does not in any other manner infringe upon the rights of any person. The Author agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Publisher against all such claims.

b)     The Author represents and warrants that the Author has full power and authority to enter into this Agreement and to grant the licenses granted in this Agreement.

c)     The Author represents and warrants that the Article furnished to the Publisher has not been published previously. For purposes of this paragraph, making a copy of the Article accessible over the Internet, including, but not limited to, posting the Article to a database accessible over the Internet, does not constitute prior publication so long as the as such copy indicates that the Article is not in final form, such as by designating such copy to be a “draft,” a “working paper,” or “work-in-progress”. The Author agrees to hold harmless the Publisher, its licensees and distributees, from any claim, action, or proceeding alleging facts that constitute a breach of any warranty enumerated in this paragraph.

§4. TERM

a)     The agreement was concluded for an unspecified time.


a)     The Author agrees and acknowledges that the Author will receive no payment from the Publisher for use of the Article or the licenses granted in this Agreement.

b)     The Publisher agrees and acknowledges that the Publisher will not receive any payment from the Author for publication by the Publisher.


a)     This Agreement supersedes any and all other agreements, either oral or in writing, between the Author and the Publisher with respect to the subject of this Agreement. This Agreement contains all of the warranties and agreements between the parties with respect to the Article, and each party acknowledges that no representations, inducements, promises, or agreements have been made by or on behalf of any party except those warranties and agreements embodied in this Agreement.

b)     In all cases not regulated by this Agreement, legal provisions of Polish Copyright Act and Polish Civil Code shall apply. 

c)     Any disputes arising from the enforcement of obligations connected with this Agreement shall be resolved by a court competent for the headquarters of the Publisher.

d)     Any amendments or additions to the Agreement must be made in writing and signed by authorised representative of both parties, otherwise being ineffective. 

e)      This Agreement is signed electronically and the submission of the article via the PRESSto platform is considered as the conclusion of the Agreement by the Author and the Publisher.

f)     Clause for consent to the processing of personal data - general

g)     The Author shall give his or her consent to the processing of their personal data in accordance with the Act of 10 May 2018 on the protection of personal data and Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of persons physical in connection with the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46 / EC (General Data Protection Regulation) for the purpose and in connection with making publications available on the PRESSto scientific journals platform and DeGruyter platform, guaranteeing the security of services rendered, and improving them.


The Author                             The Publisher



Download data is not yet available.