Presentation of the English-Ukrainian Legal Dictionary Project Held at Lviv University

On 24 August 2023, the Mirror Hall of Ivan Franko National University of Lviv hosted a presentation of the British-Ukrainian project “English-Ukrainian Legal Dictionary”. The event was held as part of a visit by the delegation from the University of Birmingham, whose members are implementing this project in collaboration with their Ukrainian colleagues.

First of all, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs and International Cooperation Serhiy Riznyk expressed his gratitude to the British delegation for active cooperation and support of Ukraine, and thanked everyone who contributed to such an important project, emphasising the significance and uniqueness of the dictionary. “One of the universal dimensions of law is justice. And with our English-Ukrainian Legal Dictionary project, we are making a significant contribution to the restoration of historical justice, as it has become, without exaggeration, a significant step towards the transition from the post-Soviet heritage to modern approaches and legal terminology, which is important in the light of transatlantic and European integration processes and the transformation of the legal consciousness of Ukrainians,” the Vice-Rector said and then added that the compilation of the dictionary is also a step towards the establishment of the rule of law, which is especially important in this difficult period.

“Ukraine is now at the stage of its social development when fundamental changes in worldview dogmas are irreversible, when there is no way back, only a public demand for transformation and a complete rejection of everything that directly or indirectly connected us with the Soviet heritage,” Serhiy Riznyk continued, after which he gave the floor to his colleagues to present the dictionary.

First, the British delegation took the floor and noted the importance of British-Ukrainian cooperation in various areas, including in the context of the English-Ukrainian Legal Dictionary. In particular, Lisa Webley, Head of the Centre for Research in Professional and Legal Education at the University of Birmingham, thanked all the colleagues who joined this project and stressed its importance and value for society as a whole. “I believe that one of the benefits of our cooperation in the process of compiling the dictionary was the opportunity to reflect on what concepts are fundamental to society, to our entire civilisation. It is important to remember this and focus on it, because we do not know when a particular force, organisation, institution, etc. may try to take away what is rightfully ours,” she said.

Next, Ukrainian linguist Bohdan Azhniuk, Director of the Oleksandr Potebnya Institute of Linguistics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Director of the Ukrainian Bureau of Linguistic Expertise of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Correspondent Member of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, who made a significant contribution to the dictionary project, was invited to speak. He, first of all, emphasised the importance of cooperation between Ukrainian and British scholars who joined the efforts to create a unique legal dictionary, and noted that this project has become an invaluable experience for the entire team. “The most important thing is that despite all the anxieties and challenges, each month of our work together has brought and continues to bring us all great strength and rich experience, as well as fill us with confidence in the future,” he said.

Olena Boryslavska, Professor of the Department of Constitutional Law at the Faculty of Law of Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian Journal of Constitutional Law, spoke in more details about the dictionary itself. She thanked her British colleagues for their faith in us and in our victory, and expressed hope that British-Ukrainian cooperation would only deepen in the future and make it possible to implement many more ambitious ideas and projects. Olena Boryslavska explained the importance of the project to compile the English-Ukrainian Legal Dictionary as a way to develop our legal consciousness and restore a true understanding of the concepts that are important for the consolidation of democratic values in our society.

“For more than thirty years we have been building our democratic and independent country, and this has undoubtedly been happening in very difficult conditions. Along the way, we have faced considerable opposition from pro-Russian forces, and we also have a large baggage of authoritarian ideology left over from the Soviet Union. This ideology is very deeply embedded in our legal consciousness, and now we see that the correct translation of legal terms is, perhaps, a small but very significant step towards restoring a true understanding of the concepts that are important for ensuring the rule of law in our country,” she said.

Speaking about the dictionary, Olena Boryslavska noted that the team has already compiled a register of 1,000 items with translations and examples of the terms used. For some of the entries, excerpts from court decisions have already been selected to confirm the accuracy of the translation. “We still have a lot of work ahead of us, and we are very grateful to our British and Ukrainian colleagues who are helping us to implement our plan,” she concluded.

After that, representatives of the dictionary’s team presented all its features in detail, describing the process of selecting the entries and illustrative material, the principles of compiling the dictionary entries, their structure, the uniqueness of the dictionary in comparison with existing lexicographical works on legal topics, as well as the difficulties and challenges in the translation process. The coordinated work of the compilers, editors, translators and all those who contributed to the creation of the dictionary was noted as well.

As for the peculiarities of the English-Ukrainian Legal Dictionary, it is worth noting that each dictionary entry contains not only the translation of a term, but also a list of collocations, related expressions and examples of usage, in particular from court practice, for a better understanding of the term and verification of the translation accuracy. The value of the dictionary is also that it can be used by a wide range of people, not only legal professionals, but also, and importantly, students and all those interested in general.

After the presentation of the dictionary, the guests from the UK visited the Lviv University History Museum, where its director gave them a fascinating tour, telling interesting facts about the history and present of the University.