Informatica e diritto, XL Annata, Vol. XXIII, 2014, n. 1, pp. 251-274

Katia Peruzzo

MuLex: a proposal for a legal translation-oriented TKB with graphical representation

MuLex: una base di conoscenza terminologica orientata alla traduzione giuridica dotata di uno strumento di rappresentazione grafica

The development of web-based terminological resources in electronic format incorporating the representation of semantic relations among terms has attracted increasing attention ever since the beginning of the new millennium. Within this context of growing interest and developing activity, there is a clear demand for IT-supported terminological resources devoted specifically to legal terminology. The design of such resources seems most demanding when the complexity of the legal framework and the multilingual regime of the European Union is considered. In this regard, the EU has developed its own internal terminological resources (e.g. IATE) and has already taken some steps to "provide common principles, terminology, and rules for contract law to address gaps, conflicts, and ambiguities emerging from the application of European contract law" through its Common Frame of Reference (CFR). However, on the one hand, despite being computer-assisted, EU internal terminological resources are not necessarily based on ontological premises and they are not dedicated to legal terminology only. On the other hand, the CFR has a stronger ontological backing but focuses solely on contract law and it is mainly thought as a useful tool for the drafting, interpretation and transposition processes. Similarly as in the case of the CFR, the terminological knowledge base (TKB) MuLex presented in this paper concentrates on a single legal area within the criminal law field. MuLex is a repository of English and Italian terminological units related specifically to victims of crime and their rights and is aimed at representing the complexity of bilingual terminology embedded in the multidimensional and multi-layered legal reality of the EU. The abundance of existing resources providing legal information, from traditional paper legal dictionaries to on-line glossaries and legal encyclopaedias, which can serve different purposes and are thought for a wide variety of users, such as legal drafters, lawyers, scholars and students, is undeniable. However, when designing MuLex the usability and potential value of a TKB to a single target group of users, i.e. legal translators, were considered. Indeed, the existing legal resources may bring about some disadvantages to legal translators, such as the overload of legal data combined with a lack of linguistic information or the focus on a legal term as used in a legal system only, while it may have slightly different meanings in various legal systems. Therefore, MuLex was devised as a translation-oriented resource capable of capturing the terminological dynamism (variation) due to the interconnection between the EU legal system and the English and Italian national legal systems. Its main aim is thus to serve as a useful and time-saving resource for translators, in which the focus is firstly on the variability of terminological units according to the legal system they refer to and the type of text involved in one language only, and secondly on the degree of conceptual equivalence when Italian and English terms are compared. In order to optimise the representation of the domain-specific knowledge implied by the legal terminology included in MuLex, the terminographic entries recorded in the TKB are subdivided into concept fields and integrate a tool enabling the graphical representation of the relational structures among the concepts analysed. Such structures can be therefore considered as light-weight legal system-dependent ontologies constituting an additional tool for helping translators understand the relations among concepts within the legal systems considered and the possible differences among legal systems (e.g. lack of a concept, different relations, different degree of granularity). The consultation of such a graphically structured TKB may prove very useful in terms of both knowledge acquisition and time saving in the translator's decoding of the source text and choice of the most appropriate translation equivalent in the target text. Although at present MuLex focuses on a narrow area of law in two languages, its flexible nature makes it well-suited to be constantly updated and expanded by including also terminological units referring to other branches of law and in different languages.

A partire dall’inizio del nuovo millennio, le risorse terminologiche web-based che consentono di rappresentare graficamente le relazioni semantiche tra i termini sono state oggetto di un sempre maggiore interesse. Lo sviluppo di risorse terminologiche elettroniche specifiche per la terminologia giuridica è particolarmente complesso, soprattutto quando si tiene conto delle peculiarità del quadro giuridico e del regime multilingue dell’Unione europea. La base di conoscenza terminologica MuLex illustrata nell’articolo si concentra su un’area specifica del diritto penale, precisamente sulle vittime del reato e i diritti a loro riconosciuti. Lo scopo di MuLex è rappresentare la complessità della terminologia inglese e di quella italiana radicate nella struttura giuridica multi-livello dell’Unione europea. MuLex è stato concepito come strumento utile per i traduttori giuridici, in quanto permette di ovviare ad alcuni svantaggi delle risorse giuridiche già disponibili, quali il sovraccarico di informazioni di natura giuridica a scapito di informazioni linguistiche o l’attenzione rivolta al significato di un termine giuridico in un unico ordinamento, quando invece lo stesso termine può avere diversi significati in diversi ordinamenti. MuLex rappresenta dunque uno strumento specifico per la traduzione giuridica capace di rappresentare la variazione terminologica derivante dall’interazione costante tra l’ordinamento Ue e gli ordinamenti nazionali inglese e italiano. L’obiettivo principale di questo strumento è quello di permettere ai traduttori di risparmiare tempo, focalizzandosi in primo luogo sulla variabilità delle unità terminologiche a seconda dell’ordinamento giuridico a cui si riferiscono e della tipologia testuale in cui vengono utilizzate in un contesto monolingue, per poi passare all’analisi del grado di equivalenza concettuale in sede di comparazione tra termini inglesi e italiani. Le schede terminografiche in MuLex sono suddivise in campi concettuali e contengono uno strumento che consente la rappresentazione grafica delle strutture relazionali esistenti tra i concetti analizzati, le quali possono aiutare i traduttori a comprendere le relazioni tra i concetti all’interno degli ordinamenti analizzati e le eventuali differenze tra gli ordinamenti stessi (ad esempio, l’inesistenza di un concetto in un determinato ordinamento, le diverse relazioni tra concetti e i diversi gradi di specificità, ecc.).

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