Università di Bergamo > Cerlis > English Version > Projects > Intercultural Discourse in Domain Specific English





Anno 2002 - prot . 2002104353




Project of the University of Verona


The language of Italian laws on international arbitration from culture-specific to intercultural communication


The project will be divided into two complementary stages. In the first stage a thematic dictionary (Italian-English) will be compiled in CD-ROM format; the dictionary will cover a minimum of 1000 terms from the legal field, which are considered to be the basic terminology needed to understand the structure of the Italian legal system. Each term will be defined and explained in detail and will cover one of the following semantic fields: the Law, the Italian State , Individuals and Collective Entities, Contracts, Property, Trials, and the EU. These semantic fields have been selected because they provide necessary terminology for comprehension of the authentic legislative texts which will accompany the dictionary and related software. Indeed, a number of Italian regulations in the field of international commercial arbitration will also be included on the CD-ROM. These are a unique kind of regulations, since this field is among the few that are not uniformly regulated throughout Italy and depend overtly on the provisions laid down by Italian Chambers of Commerce. Since they are international regulations, some of them are laid down both in Italian and in English; both versions will be part of the CD-ROM.

The software developed at the end of the first phase of the project will comprise two sections:

1) a bilingual database, providing an overview of the Italian legal system, with specific reference to the terminology exploited in the field of international commercial arbitration;

2) a corpus of Italian regulations on international commercial arbitration.

The wide coverage of this software allows the user to envisage more than one possible application in the second phase of the project. Indeed, it can be helpful for teaching purposes aimed at Italian and foreign students who intend:

(a) to learn the main aspects and concepts of Italy ’s legal system;

(b) to exploit a corpus of provisions regulating international commercial arbitration;

(c) to develop a thorough linguistic analysis of the bilingual texts included in the CD-ROM, in order to improve their theoretical and practical competence in the field of translation of specialised texts. To this aim, the co-operation with the research unit of the University of Bergamo will be of great value.


With reference to scientific research, the main aim of the local research unit will be to study in detail Italian legal language and its translation into English. Indeed, the English translation of the dictionary entries on the one hand and of bilingual drafting of regulations on the other will prove to be an important tool for linguistic appreciation of the key role played by cultural constraints in the translation of such texts. Specifically, the analysis will at first focus on the semantic correspondence of translated terms; special attention will be given to terms which define legal concepts or reflect a procedural approach inspired by legal cultures different from the Italian. Secondly, great importance will be given to current interpretations in Italy of difficult or ambiguous expressions used in official international texts and then translated and endorsed as models by the competent Italian bodies in the field of international commercial arbitration (Chambers of Commerce and National Arbitration Society). Special attention will be awarded to the study of such linguistic cohesion devices as repetition, synonymic accumulation, paratactic and hypotactic structures, complexity of utterances and other functional and discoursal aspects of typical Italian “legalese”. The bilingual texts issued by the competent Italian authorities will then be compared to those of similar content and subject matter produced in English by international authorities, in order to identify textual similarities and/or differences between the two types of texts and to verify whether and to what extent it is feasible to envisage a supranational legal variety in the field of international commercial arbitration.