Dealing with non-equivalence of legal terminology – a comparative case study of Lithuanian and English legal terms

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The aims of the article are: 1) to define the principles of comparative legal terminology analysis used for the case study presented in the article; 2) to analyse a group of Lithuanian legal terms defining a generic concept of a criminal wrong and its types according to the degree of seriousness (nusikalstama veika, nusikaltimas and baudžiamasis nusižengimas), and to conduct a comparative analysis of the Lithuanian terms and their closest equivalents in the English-Welsh and the US legal systems; 3) to analyse how the relevant concepts are named in the English versions of the EU legal documents; 4) to discuss and evaluate the translation of the analysed Lithuanian terms in the English version of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania. The research reveals semantic and functional differences of the analysed Lithuanian terms and their closest English equivalents as well as the differences between the Lithuanian, the English-Welsh, and the US legal systems. The analysis of the EU documents shows what criminal law terms, referring to the relevant concepts, are used internationally. The findings allow the evaluation of the English translation of the Lithuanian terms in the Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania from the perspective of the functional (in)congruity of the terms and the communicative purpose of the target text. Hopefully, the findings of the research will give ideas to both the translators of legal texts dealing with non-equivalence problems and the teachers of legal English searching for effective terminology teaching strategies as well as willing to use comparative law and translation methodology in the ESP teaching process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalEnglish for Specific Purposes World
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - 2014



  • Legal concepts
  • Legal terminology
  • Culture-bound terms

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