Advocacy as legal argument: The judicial interpretive task of the translator

Maitland, Sarah. 2024. Advocacy as legal argument: The judicial interpretive task of the translator. In: Catherine Boyle and Sarah Maitland, eds. Translation as Advocacy: Perspectives on Practice, Performance and Publishing. London: John Murray Learning, pp. 1-26. ISBN 9781399816144 [Book Section] (Forthcoming)

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Abstract or Description

We tend to think of advocates as people who argue publicly in favour of a particular cause. In jurisprudence, professional advocates champion the case of a particular person or legal entity before a court or tribunal. In both conceptualizations, advocacy is about taking up a voice on behalf of someone who is absent or whose voice has been silenced. In that intimate moment that characterizes the act of reading, the texts we read, consider and later translate are also silent, just as their authors are absent from the proceedings. It is the translator who must advocate for both the author and the text.

Focusing on the translation of the dramatic works of nineteenth-century Cuban-Spanish Romantic writer Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, this chapter is a meta-reflection on what it means for the translator to advocate for the meanings they construct within the text-for-translation. I argue that the dialectical processes of interpretation and argumentation, understanding and explanation that accompany the complex task of translation succeed in geolocating the translator within the time and space of reading. Advocacy emerges as a profound investment in the text as the site of the clues we need to understand it and, if we are lucky, ourselves.

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English and Comparative Literature


15 January 2024Accepted

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Date Deposited:

09 Feb 2024 09:50

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09 Feb 2024 15:33


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