Literal or Free? A Study of Danish Translators’ Strategies in Translating Spanish Judgments

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Published May 15, 2015
Anja Krogsgaard Vesterager


This article reports on the findings of a qualitative study on Danish translators’ strategies in their translations of an excerpt from a Spanish judgment. The aim of the study was to
examine 1) whether Danish translators opted for a literal or free approach in their translation of a Spanish judgment, and 2) whether differences could be observed in relation to the participants’ expertise in translation in terms of strategy on the one hand, and interference on the other hand. To fulfil the purpose, a corpus study involving translation from Spanish into Danish was performed. The data – a Spanish source text and ten translations into Danish by five experts and five non-experts – was analysed using contrastive text analysis. The results of the study showed that literal translation was the strategy used in most translations. However, although literal translation was the predominant strategy overall, the findings revealed that there were slight differences between experts and non-experts in the way they used the strategy of literal translation. In addition, the results showed that interference was slightly more prevalent in the translations produced by non-experts than in those produced by experts. This study contributes to academia by providing empirical evidence of translators’ strategies – evidence which is much needed in the field of legal translation, where empirical research on this particular topic is scarce. Apart from its academic contribution, the present study may be useful in heightening professional and student translators’ self-awareness and performance monitoring skills, both of which are preconditions for producing an idiomatic translation.

How to Cite

Krogsgaard Vesterager, Anja. 2015. “Literal or Free? A Study of Danish Translators’ Strategies in Translating Spanish Judgments”. Fachsprache 37 (1-2):83-103.
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