3 J. Chinese. L. 55 (1989)
Explicating Law: A Comparative Perspective of Chinese and Western Legal Culture

handle is hein.journals/colas3 and id is 69 raw text is: Explicating Law: A Comparative
Perspective of Chinese and Western
Legal Culture
LIANG ZHIPING*
I. THE MEANING OF LAW IN WESTERN AND CHINESE
CIVILIZATIONS
Nineteenth century legal historians believed that just as language
and customs were the product of a nation's past history and cultural
mentality, so were their laws. This proposition is correct in the fol-
lowing sense: as essential elements of a culture, law and language
both in their own way reflect the distinguishing features of the overall
culture.
Anytime one language is translated into another language, one
often encounters the problem of the translation failing to accurately
express the original meaning. This problem arises from neither the
level of the translator's proficiency in grasping and using a language
nor the inherent expressiveness of a language, but rather it is simply
that it is impossible to find an appropriate word that corresponds to
the meaning of the other word. These difficulties in translation are a
reflection of historical and cultural differences. Perhaps the subtle lin-
guistic barriers created by these differences can never be eliminated.
Taking the proposition that language will always be the product
of a specific history and culture as a starting point, we can proceed to
a more meaningful examination: through the creation, evolution and
definition of their form and meaning, words have come to encompass
specific social phenomena. Furthermore, a new understanding of
these words is provided through their connotation as reflected in the
historical and cultural characteristics expressed in these social phe-
nomena. Through this process, a few words with which we are famil-
iar will take on a fresh new significance, and our knowledge of
interrelated social phenomena can also be further deepened. This
process is expanded upon below, and a word with which everyone is
very familiar (at least people believe so) has been taken as the starting
point for this process: law.
* M.A., People's University, law department; Instructor, People's University, law
department.

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