Obligations I: Quid pro quo: Contractual Semiosis and Translation

  • Dinda L. Gorlée


Obligations have since millennia their legal form in the concept of contract; legal scholars have since reflected upon the issue in all social, political, and cultural circumstances and philosophers treated contract as a particular form of inter-subjectivity. The text of this chapter has it all: focusing on Ch. S. Peirce’s remarks on contract, one is confronted with in-depth philosophical considerations, whereas the dimensions of translation not only cover linguistic issues but more in general the various levels of meaning in legal discourse and in everyday language as well as their proper translatability. A contract, the chapter concludes, must be understood as a relational speech-act. A promise, in its simplest form, is an act in which a speaker manifests his or her intention, based upon his or her volition, to perform some act in the future. That would make a contract a dual promise from speaker to hearer and vice versa. But a contract is more than two promises amalgamated. Contractual acts are themselves acts in which as future exchange is foreshadowed by a present, symbolic exchange. This third element is the clue for a correct interpretation. It consists in the joint declaration’s special purpose: the legal consequences that enhance what would otherwise be a trivial and inconsequential transaction.


Carnegie Institution Symbolic Sign Linguistic Sign Legal Contract Demonstrative Pronoun 
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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Legal Translation AgencyThe HagueNetherlands

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