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Conferences give us a chance to see other’s work, share ideas, shift perspective, and re-energize our own work. In the last session of the last day of the 2015 Law Via the Internet conference in Sydney, we were treated to an extraordinary panel entitled “Language, translation, and comparative law: East Asian experience”. You might think this is veering a bit out of our lane, but the project report on the translation work from legal and computer science scholars and builders Yoshiharu Matsuura and Amy Shee had a lot in common with problems we’re contending with in our own shop.

Their description of the problem they were addressing:

“There is an implicit assumption that four jurisdictions in East Asia (China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan) share key concepts of law for various reasons. Some people might believe that these jurisdictions share similar legal culture. However, the reality is that accurate knowledge of the legal systems of four jurisdictions is not widely shared even in East Asia.”

Looking at the combination of the linguistic alignment problems and, as Professor Shee described it, “the other translation¬†problem” (the team in Japan works in Ruby; the team in Taiwan works in PHP), we saw a lot of parallels with our own concerns about terminology conformance and bridging the scripting / scaling divide we run into (M.Eng. students we work with prefer Java, which is not our default).

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting more from the conference – more soon!

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