Poetry and Tax Statute: Translation as Interpretation

https://doi.org/10.22364/iscflul.8.2.05 | Pages 52-64 | PDF

Nolan Sharkey, PhD, Professor
University of Western Australia, Australia

Tatiana Tkachenko, Language Teaching Expert
independent, Finland

Keywords: legal interpretation, translation of law, constitutional law, legal complexity

This paper applies the literary critique of translating poetry to the field of translating statute to raise significant constitutional and practical issues. The field of focus is taxation law, an area notable for its complexity and intricacy in a large number of countries. A linguistic argument is made that the demands that are made on the words of tax law parallel those made in poetry and this necessarily creates a demand for interpretation on the part of users of the law. This aspect of interpretation is then considered in situations that demand the translation of foreign and a number of constitutional and practical issues are highlighted in relation to the role of the translator. The issues raised in the paper are of significant importance in an increasingly globalised international tax world where statutes written in very different languages are called upon to interact with one another.