In recent decades, the expansion of corpus-based studies of legal translation and translation norms has shown the interest of many scholars in this trend of research. The idea of translation being a norm-governed activity which is much affected by the socio-cultural specificity and the instability of norms, and the very strict requirements of a legal translated texts seem to conflict with the other; simultaneously, the research theme which involves those two linguistic factors also can lead to some interesting linguistic phenomenom. In addtion, there are a lot of aspects to study in this theme.
Linguistic difficulties in translation often arise from the differences found in the different legal cultures and legal systems, for instance, the common law as contrasted to the civil law. The root of the problem lies in their varying legal histories, cultures, and systems. Legal language has developed its characteristics to meet the demands of the legal system in which it is expressed. As mentioned, legal translation is distinguished from other types of technical translation that convey universal information. Each legal language is the product of a special history and culture. A basic linguistic difficulty in legal translation is the absence of equivalent terminology across different languages. This requires constant comparison between the legal systems of the SL and TL by means of norms.
Even though there are several studies on legal translation, still, the focus on translation norms have not received much attention. The research trend of norms in legal texts now mainly on the theory and model of legal norms (e.g. Gostoji?, Milosavljevi? & Zora Konjovi? 2013; Svensson 2013) while the practice of translation norms in legal texts still have many space to study. Thus, in order to fill those gaps, this thesis investigates the translation norms in V-O collocations in the English translated texts of criminal laws of China and Vietnam.
The background of the legal systems involve in this thesis will be introduced briefly. Historically, the Civil Law tradition developed in continental Europe and at the same time it was applied in the former colonies of European imperial powers like Spain and Portugal, whereas the Common Law systems have evolved primarily in the U.K. and almost its former colonies and particularly the Common Wealth countries. Both systems have similar sources of law – both have statutes and both have case law; however, their regulations base on different perspectives. Common law is generally uncodified, which means that there is no comprehensive compilation of legal rules and statutes; Civil Law, in contrast, is codified. Countries with Civil Law system have comprehensive, continuously updated legal codes which specify all the subject matters capable of being brought before a court, the applicable procedures, and the appropriate punishment for each offense. Such codes can be classified into two categories of law: substantive law which regulates the kinds of acts subject to criminal or civil prosecution and procedural law which regulates how to determine whether a particular action constitutes a criminal act. And penal code in criminal law of Civil Law system can be used to sentence the appropriate penalty. In Civil Law system, there is generally a written constitution along with some specific codes (e.g. civil codes, penal codes, codes covering corporate law, administrative law, tax law and educational law, etc.), which are classified according to different departments.
Vietnam has experienced many invasions which have evidently affected its legal system. After more than ten centuries of feudalism until 938 A.D., in the late 19th century, Vietnam fell under the French colonization that led to the legal-system transformation to Civil Law. Since then, the legal system of Vietnam has mainly followed the Civil Law direction. In 1975, the country was fully reunited and later renamed as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, a one-party state under the control of the Communist Party. In other words, the Communist Party of Vietnam has a central role in shaping the country’s policy and legal system and maintains a firm control over different levels of the government and social system. Vietnam’s legal system is evolving fast so the legislation work has been greatly improved. In line with the increasing number of legal texts, the Official Gazette has increased its rate of publication from two issues per month in 1995 to daily in 2004, accordingly, the number of laws and other legal texts increases rapidly. From early 2003 on, legal texts must be published in the Official Gazette (an official electronic information portal of the law of Vietnam) as a compulsory condition for becoming effective. This compulsory publication is a great improvement compared to the previous situation where most of the legal texts became effective 15 days after the date of signature but not all the legal texts were published. The dynamism and transparency of the legal system, as a result, were improved considerably (Official Gazette, 2003). The Vietnamese criminal laws were passed by the National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam with major objective is to protect the socialist regime, the people’s mastership, equality among the people of various nationalities, the interests of the State, the legitimate rights and interests of citizens and organizations, sustain the socialist law order at the same time to educate people in the sense of law observance and to prevent and combat crimes. In order to realize such objective, the criminal laws of Vietnam define the categories of crimes and the penalties for offenders and state out the procedure code, penal code, the guideline along with the specific laws corresponding with the specific crimes and preventions. The corpus of English translated texts of Vietnamese criminal laws used in this study is the official translation collected from the Official Gazette (published by the Vietnamese government). It consists of 10 files with 125,170 words in total which sufficiently present the fundamental provisions and effects of the criminal law, the definitions and characteristics of the specific crimes and their related penalties, as well as the conditions of penalty reduction and exemption.