Chapter 2, English Translations

All freely available websites are available below. Updated and new sources as well as new content follow the footnotes below, organized by section of the Coursebook.

Sample Exercise (Instructors: Feel free to download and edit as you see fit. Please email us for the answer key.)

FN #2, Moniteur Belge
FN #3, Babel Fish Translation
FN #4, Legifrance
FN #5, Collection of Laws for Electronic Access (CLEA)
FN #8, World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII)
FN #9, Sources of International and Foreign Law in English (University of Illinois College of Law Library)
FN #10, Foreign Primary Law on the Web (University of Houston Law Library)
FN #11, Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Finding Foreign Law Online When Going Global (University of Chicago Law Library)
FN #12, Comparative/Foreign Law (LLRX)
FN #13, Globalex
FN #14, Suzanne Thorpe, Online Legal Information in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden (LLRX)
FN #15, Foreign Government Resources on the Web (University of Michigan)
FN #19, Global Legal Information Network (GLIN)
FN #21, INT-LAW List
FN #22, EURO-LEX List

Updated/New Sources & Content

References to page numbers in parentheses refer to pages in the Coursebook.

Section I. About Translations

Newer example of synoptic translations:  Ian Sumner &  H.C.S. Warendorf, Book 1, Netherlands Antilles Civil Code, Family Law and the Law of Persons (2005). To see this example, look at a preview of this book on Google Books. (See page 17.)

The electronic version of Foreign Law Guide is now the only version available. (See page 18.)

Section I.B. About Translations: Online Translators

Google Translate has succeeded Babel Fish as the best-known online translation site.  To create this translation software, Google used millions of “aligned texts” -- examples of human translations between two languages.   Many of these texts were legal or quasi-legal in nature, such as European Union and United Nations documents.  Google Translate works better than earlier software translators such as Babel Fish, but in the words of one critic, “[f]requently the system has the fluency of a barely competent human translator, one who happens to be both distracted and drunk.” See Lee Gomes, Google Translate Tangles With Computer Learning, Forbes, July 22, 2010. (See page 19.)

Here is an excerpt from the French code of money and finance, as translated by Google Translate:

Article L122-1
The legal tender of a particular type of notes denominated in Swiss francs may, upon proposal of the Bank of France, be abolished by decree. The Bank is obliged to provide within a period of ten years in exchange for his wickets against other types of legal tender banknotes.

And here is the translation provided by Legifrance:

Article L122-1

Legal tender in the form of a specific type of banknotes denominated in francs may be withdrawn by decree on a proposal from the Bank of France. For a period of ten years thereafter, the Bank remains bound to exchange them at its branches for other types of banknotes which are legal tender.

The version from Google Translate introduces the incorrect concept of Swiss francs, and provides a remarkably unhelpful translation of “guichets” –as “wickets”—instead of banknotes. 

Section II.B.2 Finding Translations: Translations of Laws and Codes, Subject Collections

Commercial Laws of the World is no longer available as a looseleaf publication; it is now available only through RIA Checkpoint as an expensive database. Constitutions of the Countries of the World is available as both a database and a looseleaf set. (See page 22.)

The World Intellectual Property Organization’s Collection of Laws for Electronic Access has been renamed WIPO Lex. (See page 22.)

The links in the University of Chicago guide, Foreign Law in English Translation on the Internet, have not been updated recently and should be consulted among last resorts. (See page 22.)

Section II.B.6 Finding Translations: Translations of Laws and Codes, Periodical Articles

More recent examples of translated statutes are found in Lyombe Eko, American Exceptionalism, the French Exception, Intellectual Property Law, and Peer-to-Peer File Sharing on the Internet, 10 J. Marshall Rev. Intell. Prop. L. 95 (2010) (translating part of  a French law on internet regulation);  Esther Sánchez Torres, The Spanish Law on Dependent Self-Employed Workers: A New Evolution in Labor Law, 31 Comp. Lab. L. & Pol'y J 231 (2010) (translating part of Spanish law). (See page 24.)