chapter  10.7
5 Pages

Chinese language and law

WithLester Ross

The practice of law is intimately related to language. Practice is predicated upon the ability to understand the law as written by parsing the text, and upon the ability to write and speak to persuade the government or another counterparty of the rightness of one's argument. While no one can hope to be fluent in the language of every jurisdiction where one may be called on to practice, and success is possible in an unfamiliar language environment, the likelihood of success is directly related to the ability to communicate in the predominant language of the jurisdiction. A language-proficient practitioner can also be more alert to departures from prevailing discourse and to extensions of terminology to new areas of the law. Moreover, the opacity of the Communist Party-controlled political system in the People's Republic of China (PRC) is such that political and legal changes are often signaled by subtle changes in wording that may be obscured in translation.