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Vol 23 No 3 March/April 2018

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Translating the Social World for Law: Linguistic Tools for a New Legal Realism

Edited by: Elizabeth Mertz, William K. Ford, Gregory Matoesian

ISBN13: 9780199990559
Published: August 2016
Publisher: Oxford University Press USA
Country of Publication: USA
Format: Hardback
Price: £74.00

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This volume examines the linguistic problems that arise in efforts to translate between law and the social sciences. We usually think of "translation" as pertaining to situations involving distinct languages such as English and Swahili. But realistically, we also know that there are many kinds of English or Swahili, so that some form of translation may still be needed even between two people who both speak English-including, for example, between English speakers who are members of different professions.

Law and the social sciences certainly qualify as disciplines with quite distinctive language patterns and practices, as well as different orientations and goals. In coordinated papers that are grounded in empirical research, the volume contributors use careful linguistic analysis to understand how attempts to translate between different disciplines can misfire in systematic ways. Some contributors also point the way toward more fruitful translation practices. The contributors to this volume are members of an interdisciplinary working group on Legal Translation that met for a number of years. The group includes scholars from law, philosophy, anthropology, linguistics, political science, psychology, and religious studies. The members of this group approach interdisciplinary communication as a form of "translation" between distinct disciplinary languages (or, "registers"). Although it may seem obvious that professionals in different fields speak and think differently about the world, in fact experts in law and in social science too often assume that they can communicate easily when they are speaking what appears to be the "same" language. While such experts may intellectually understand that they differ regarding their fundamental assumptions and uses of language, they may nonetheless consistently underestimate the degree to which they are actually talking past one another. This problem takes on real-life significance when one of the fields is law, where how knowledge is conveyed can affect how justice is meted out.

Other Jurisdictions , Law and Society, USA
1. Introduction: Translating Law and Social Science
William K. Ford & Elizabeth Mertz

PART ONE Analyzing Legal Translations on the Ground
2. Translating Defendants' Apologies During Allocution at Sentencing
M. Catherine Gruber
2A Gruber Frances Tung
3. Translating Token Instances of ": The Discursive and
Multimodal Translation of Evidence into Precedent
Gregory Matoesian
3A Matoesian Christopher Roy and Elizabeth Mertz
4. Comments on Matoesian and Gruber: Performative Risks in Risking Performance
Michael Silverstein
4A Silverstein Elizabeth Mertz

PART TWO System-Level Challenges: When Courts Translate Social Science
5. The Law and Science of Video Game Violence: Who Lost More in Translation?
William K. Ford
6. Being Human: Negotiating Religion, Law, and Science in the Classroom and the Courtroom
Winnifred Fallers Sullivan
7. Social Science and the Ways of the Trial Court: Possibilities of Translation
Robert P. Burns
8. Part Two Commentary: Processes of Translation and Demarcation in Legal Worlds
Susan Gal

PART THREE Toward Improved Translations: Recognizing the Barriers
9. Elizabeth Mertz
10. Law's Resistance to Translation: What Law & Literature Can Teach Us
Peter Brooks (interview)

PART FOUR Concluding Remarks
11. Afterword: Some Further Thoughts on Translating Law and Social Science
Gregory Matoesian