A Preliminary Assessment of Research on Chinese Legal Discourse and Its Pedagogical Translation

Author: Natalia Riva (Contemporary Asia Research Centre, University of Milan, Italy)
Speaker: Natalia Riva
Topic: General Sociolinguistics
CALA 2020 General Session


This study draws on the preliminary results of an ongoing research project aimed at developing teaching materials on legal Chinese terminology specifically designed for Italy’s penal sector. The paper discusses Chinese legal discourse and its pedagogical translation and has a two-fold aim. First, drawing on the methodologies of genre analysis (Swales 1990; Bathia 1993; Tessuto 2012), it assesses a corpus of Chinese criminal sentences, with the aim of identifying recurring linguistic features which can be ascribed to this specific genre of Chinese legal discourse (Han/Ge 2019). Second, based on the methodologies of corpus-based translation studies (Hu 2016) and translation in language teaching (Tsagari/Floros 2013), it explores the potential of translating a corpus of such texts from Chinese (L2) to Italian (L1) in benefiting the process of foreign language learning. The importance of translation as a cognitive strategy in learning a foreign language has been evaluated variably over time but seems to have again been put under review in recent years (Calvi 2001, 2003; Leonardi 2011; Tsagari/Floros 2013). The paper combines this approach with the expanding research on the features of Chinese as a language for specific purposes.

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Keywords: Chinese legal discourse; pedagogical translation; Chinese for specific purposes