General programme, activity sheet

Thursday 28 April, 2016 15:00 to 15:30 Comunicación
Informational pamphlets for asylum seekers in Spanish and English: A proposal for the simplification of legal discourse based on the Plain English Movement
Speaker: María Cristina Toledo Báez, Universidad de Alcalá

Authors: Informational pamphlets for asylum seekers in Spanish and English: A proposal for the simplification of legal discourse based on the Plain English Movement International protection requests in Spain have risen rapidly in recent years. According to the Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado (2015), there were 6,655 requests in the first semester of 2015 alone, compared with 2,588 in 2012. Consequently, Organic Law 12/2009, of October 30th, which regulates the right to asylum and subsidiary protection, is becoming increasingly important. It stipulates that asylum seekers must be informed about their rights and obligations. To do so, the Spanish Government created an informational pamphlet in Spanish with French, Arabic and English translations. According to the Ministry for Home Affairs (2010: 68-70), 16% of asylum applicants were illiterate and 27% had a primary-school education. Therefore, it is essential that the pamphlet uses simple language to ensure understanding. Likewise, the international Plain English Movement (Montolio Durán, 2011) hopes to eliminate institutions' use of cryptic, unintelligible language. In Spain, the report from the Commission for the Modernization of Legal Language (Spanish Ministry of Justice, 2011) represents a milestone in the modernization of legal and administrative discourse. It states that “institutions [...] have the shared responsibility to take measures to ensure the right to understand” (2011: 15). Thus, institutions have an obligation to use clear, understandable language. This study aims to analyze the legal discourse in the Spanish and English pamphlets. Specifically, it seeks to: 1) provide an overview of policies for the simplification of legal discourse in the United States, Europe and Spain; 2) conduct a linguistic revision of the English and Spanish pamphlets; 3) identify linguistic and discursive elements which may hinder comprehension; and 4) propose an intralinguistic and interlinguistic translation in clear, simple language. This simplified version seeks to guarantee the much-needed “right to understand.” References Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado. (2015). Informe 2015: Las personas refugiadas en España y Europa [Data file]. Retrieved from Ministry for Home Affairs. (2010). Asilo en cifras 2010. [Data file]. Retrieved from Ministry of Justice. (2011). Informe de la Comisión de modernización del lenguaje jurídico [Data file]. Retrieved from Montolio Durán, E. (2011). “La situación del discurso jurídico escrito español. Estado de la cuestión y algunas propuestas de mejora”. In E. Montolio Durán (Ed.), Hacia la modernización del discurso jurídico (65-91). Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona.

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Topic 3 Research: the process and product of specialised translation

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