Turning Gumbo into Coq Au Vin
Translating the Louisiana Civil Code  

by Matthew Boles

In July of 2016, a project to translate the current Louisiana Civil Code that was enacted in 1870 from English to French was completed, marking the first time that the Code was completely translated. The monolingual version of the 1870 Code differed from the 1825 Code and the 1808 Digest in that both of those were written into French and translated into English, having the official source of law in two languages. Although the French version of the current Code is not an authoritative source of law, the project received an award for its contributions to preserving the French language in Louisiana.
This article provides an overview of the French impact in Louisiana from a language and legal perspective, and then provides an explanation of the two main legal translation theories: the formal equivalency and functional equivalency. The article also examines the role of culture in legal translation and ends by examining how the translators of the Code decided to translate it and provides specific examples. By examining how this translation project was done, future translators can determine which method is best for them in their projects.

DOI 10.23815/2421-2156.ITALJ           ISSN 2421-2156

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