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Legal Terminology Conference, Budapest, 6 September 2018

An insight in the newest developments in legal terminology research in Hungary and worldwide, with useful terms, data bases and books to assist you in finding legal terms in Eng-Hun languages. With a special offer at the end.

Asztalos Zsófia (European Court of Justice) spoke about the type and volume of texts they translate, as well as Curiaterm, the internal terminology data base used by the Court

Berencsi Katalin, terminoligist and translator (European Commission, Directorate-General for Translation): In her presentation, she spoke about the role of the European Commission in elaborating Hungarian terminology. In this process, the Commission takes the initiative, to find Hungarian equivalents and/or create terminology. In creating terminology, consideration is given to the new  term being consise, suitable for inclusion into sentences and context. Further issues to consider: meaning (should be explored to have a clear understanding), term being renamed in the legislative process, change in meaning (narrowing, extension), coherence with other laws and political correctness.

Mr. Villányi József and Mr. Puppán Dániel (European Parliament, Directorate-General for Translation):

In their presentation they made an account of machine translation being in use at the translation department, producing translations into Hungarian to the standard a native translator is capable. The text reads smoothly, terminology is also okay, except that there may be cases where certain terms are used improperly to a slight extent. The Directorate uses SDL Studio, with a lot of macros added to it. They have also developed a CAT tool for themselves, named CAT4TRAD, not yet fully operational.

Dr. Gáspár Endre and Somssich Réka from the Ministry of Justice made his presentation about the translations being performed at the Ministry, noting particularly the translation of the Hungarian "Alaptörvény" (Fundamental Law of Hungary), claiming that they took five excellent translations from a number of universities, considered excellent solutions in each of them and then make a top-end translation in reliance of these translations. He also mentioned that the website of the Ministry now features a number of Hungarian laws with their English translations. They can be accessed here: I believe these translations can be regarded as ”official translations”. They can be used to search for and find legal terminology in Eng-Hun languages. There is also a website where you can chech legal terminology:

In his presentation, Prof. Dr. Veress Emőd spoke about Hungarian legal language in Romania. The starting point was the date when Romania occupied Transsylvania under the Trianon Treaty closing WW1. Then six legal systems were in operation in Romania: Hungarian in the former Hungarian terrritories (for a time), Romanian, ortodox, (the rest I forgot). They of course united them under Romanian legal system. With the unification of Bolyai University (where Hungarian law was taught) with Babes University in 1959, the Hungarian law school was ended and thus no Hungarian lawyers were trained from that time on. Hungarian legal language is nearing extinction in Romania, as the very few Hungarin lawyers and judges use Romanian legal terms even in their Hungarian communication. Now efforts are being made to create Hungarian equivalents for the Romanian legal terms. At his University, legal English is also taught, visiting professors and lecturers from the U.S. giving lessons.

Dr. Tamás Dóra (of OFFI Zrt., ELTE BTK, Chair of MANYE Department of Terminology) spoke about the in-depth research to find English (near -) equivalents or proper translation of certain terms that may pose problems in translation. These include (i) jognyilatkozat, which can be a legal statement (if communicated verbally or in writing) or judicial act (if communicated by action), (ii) belföldi, which can be domestic or rather ”in Hungary”, (iii) jogalap nélküli gazdagodás, which is unjust/unjustified enrichment, "unjustified" being a better adjective, (iv) sérelemdíj, which translates into English as grievance award, as found by top legal terminology experts.

In his presentation, Mr. Michael Lindner (Translegal) spoke about their effort to create a single legal English platform. The idea is that nearly all nations use English in their international communication and legal transactions (contract). Translegal seeks to create a single legal terms database, containing a large number of source languages, into English. In other words, a Swedish or a Chinese businessman, translator or lawyer will have the opportunity to enter their source legal terms and the database will provide their English equivalents or near equivalents, with notes on the difference in the meaning of the source and target language terms, if there exists such difference. More than 10k terms are at hand, and Translegal engages world-class universities to work on these terms. The objective is to create a dictionary of world legal languages (World Law Dictionary). In establishing equivalence of terms, they use functional equvalency analysis. They explore the difference between the terms in terms of (i) function (ii) application and (iii) effect of the source and target terms at issue. The notes may also cover suggestions as to how to grammatically properly use the English term returned by the search. This is where my heart leapt. I have written a book on how to properly use legal English terms, counting 1550. It may well be of interest for them to include the description of terms in my book into the WLD.

I guess WLD will be available on subscription. On approaching Mr. Lindner and asking him if we could talk after the conference, he was more than willing to do so.

Then Dr. Petz András followed. The top-end legal expert operates Anglofon Studio, having taught more than 20% of Hungarian lawyers legal English. They also do translations, and in so doing, they take records of terms of interest. In their pursuit of excellence, they have created an online database, with Hungarian and English legal terms. He presented a number of special terms taken from real-life contracts, with the term ”jogosult”, like szerződés jogosultja, szellemi tulajdon jogosultja…He made in-depth research to find their English equivalents. Things to go into the WLD, I believe. The Anglofon website also features an online terminology database, available for free and for subscription.

Then I took the floor. I started with saying that I have a proven record of having translated nearly 2 million words of legal texts (as confirmed by reference letters) and that translation of legal documents requires a thorough analysis of the sentences. I take the easy way out with legal terminology, in that I simply trust in renowned legal dictionaries, and use the terms provided there. If you check out the definition of the term ”evidence” in the world’s top end monolingual legal dictionary, Black’s Law Dictionary, you will find an excellent one, however there are no hints whatever on how to properly use the term. I emphasized that legal terms exist not isolation, but in context.

I gave a handout to the legal experts there, of six pages, describing the term ”evidence” (as in the book entitled ”A Practical Guide to English for Law”), in an overview table with all verbs, adjectives, and complements in use with the term, followed by five pages of sentence patterns and sample sentences with the term, as used by native professionals. I also emphasised that we should make every effort to avoid using Hunglish (a version of English with a feel of Hungarian sentence patterns, thus sounding odd and off), and rather, we should seek to attain the highest standard, the native pro standard, as nothing less will do. It can be achieved by being familiar with legal English sentence patterns only.

Then I gave a broad overview of civil procedural law, its stages (commencement of lawsuit, expression purpose in civil procedures, establishing facts of the case, court returning its verdict, and appeals), and the various legal terms in use in these stages. When questioned about an online version, I said it will be available in due course, unfortunately not any time soon. In the meantime I recommend using the book, to make your jump start in the journey to excellence in legal English.

In the break after my presentation, Dr. Seres Márta (lecturer at the Translation Department of ELTE University) came up to me, and confirmed that this expertise is indeed useful for translation course students, even interpreters, in that they can familiarise themselves with the terminology of entire practice areas (Civil Law, Inheritance Law, Property Law, Tort Law, Intellectual Property Law, Company Law, Contract Law). in a matter of some days, so when there is an interprenting job in any part of these practice areas 4-5 days ahead, interpreters can quickly familiarise themselves with (or refresh their knowledge in) the particular terminology in English, make a list of unknown terms and find their equivalents in dictionaries. I add that they can also make a jump start in learning the particularities of the practica areas themselves, and it is also a very good start when choosing a specialisation in law.

When sitting at the panel answering questions, we received one regarding all the special notes on terminology made by translators and how they could be united and benefit from them, there was an anwer: ”we should make a big pile / and then put it on fire / to get people to gather / to bring them together” (translation (c) SzL) (original Hungarian lines by József Attila). (Can you recognise the original Hungarian version? If so, please enter below under ”hozzászólások”). Followed by a large applaud.

Seidl-Péch Olivia and Ugrin Zsuzsanna (Budapest Technical University)

In their workshop, they used a GDPR-related text to show how terms are extracted from texts and then used for educational purposes. They also presented software in use for this purpose, and the auidence was made to participate in selecting terminology and classifying them for further use.

So before I left, we two talked, and Mr. Lindner was absolutely open to consider whether Translegal could use the data in my book in the World Law Dictionary in the notes section describing grammatically proper usage of the terms. He also bought one copy of the book. Another leap of the heart.

This was an excellent conference, with very useful inputs indeed.

This conference was organised by Láncos Petra Lea, Balogh Dorka, Tamás Dóra (PPKE JÁK Jog és nyelv kutatócsoport – MANYE). An excellent conference, indeed. Thanks for all of you!

I am sorry for any omission. Please write to me below (hozzászólások) and will make any correction or addition you may wish to have entered.

Thank you for staying with us there and thank you for taking the time to read this long account of the event.

Your effort deserves a reward:


If you order the book (A Practical Guide to English for Law) by 18 September 2018 (24.00 hrs), you can have it at 10% discount at . To receive the discount, please enter the code PPKE in the coupon code window popping up in the purchase process. If you wish to pay in EUR, please set the currency at the left top corner of the first page of the website.


Great handshakes. Terminology finding its way to users. Expertise finding its way to experts.


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