In this article, the author examines the difficulties encountered by the common law scholars in translating the Latin word ius and its civilian counterparts, such as droit and Recht, into English. To demonstrate this perplexity, the author analyses the works of two authoritative Englishmen who were well trained in classics – Thomas Hobbes and Sir William Blackstone. It is then argued that the translation of the word ius in the Gaian tripartite division of the law and the translation of the German counterpart Recht in Immanuel Kant’s texts are demonstrative of these “jurilinguistic” obstacles as well. The author concludes that it is very difficult for a common lawyer to identify the polysemy of the Continental understanding of “right.” The reader may in fact be surprised by the incoherent use of the technical terminology in the works of the most authoritative common law sources. It is suggested that the explanation lies in the ideological atmosphere within which common law jurists and their civilian colleagues have been working.
Molchynsky, Andrei, The Translator as a Traitor: A Comparative and Jurilinguistic Glance at the Polysemous Notion of ‘Right’ in Private Law (May 1, 2011). Singapore Law Review, Vol. 30, p. 65, 2012.