Open Access

Comparative Conceptual Analysis in a Legal Translation Classroom: Where Do the Pitfalls Lie


It is a well-acknowledged fact in legal translation studies that when searching for terminological equivalents, translators should make use of comparative conceptual analysis (e.g. Sandrini 1996; Chromá 2014; Engberg 2015). Thus, legal translation trainees should be equipped with the necessary tools to carry out such analysis, but the question remains: are they? This paper is a follow-up to a study published in 2017 (Klabal, Knap-Dlouhá and Kubánek 2017), where modified think aloud protocols were used to explore the following research question: to what degree are university students doing a course in legal and economic translation able to apply the methods of comparative conceptual analysis to translation of terms not accounted for sufficiently in legal dictionaries or terms with no straightforward equivalents. The results showed that major issues involve non-linearity of the analysis carried out and insufficient use of the resources available. The present study involves a different group of 29 BA students of the same course two years later, who were assigned the same task. As the retrospective protocols fail to simulate real-life conditions, this study uses screen recording and keystroke logging to track the processes leading to the identification of the conceptual equivalent in a more detailed and less subject-dependent manner. The results suggest that the steps most challenging for students include identification of relevant (essential) features defining the source and target language concepts, comparison of these features and selection, or creation, of an equivalent term reflecting the results of the analysis. Students also frequently show Google-driven searching, which influences the order of the steps performed in their analyses and the sources used. To address these challenges, translation training should include a range of tailor-made exercises focusing on the critical steps of the analysis as well as on improving web searching skills.

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Philosophy, other