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Dec 15

Special Challenges In Legal Translation

Legal translation is a very important aspect of language translation as it deals with often sensitive documents.

 Legal translation is a very important aspect of language translation as it deals with often sensitive documents. One mistake an imprecise translation of a word or phrase in a partnership contract might undermine a transaction that might cost someone huge losses.

Legal translation is difficult, simply because laws are not universal and vary by country, culture, or region. Needless to say, legal translation is not for everyone. Although a professional translator may be generally considered very competent in his or her craft, he or she may still not be competent enough as a translator of legal documents. Professionals engaged in this field are often certified by their peers or a certifying authority to ascertain competence. In most cases, the translator is even required to submit a sworn affidavit accompanying his or her translation. At the basic level, the translator should be knowledgeable of the underlying legal concepts of both the source and target languages.

The delicate matter of translating documents related to law arises from the fact that laws are specific to ones culture. Yes, if simple language translation is already heavily culturally nuanced, then legal translation with its very real consequences much more complicated. It requires that level of professionalism not possessed by any common linguist. It is for this same reason that merely hiring some freelance translator to translate legal documents might be not so good an idea.

For instance, consider the problem with translating the name of an institution that does not exist in the country or legal system of the target language. Often, if there is no other solution, the institutions name is not translated and written as it is, but in italics. Another complicated example would be translating an international business contract between two large companies weaving through terminologies that may not have exact direct equivalents in the target language makes it very difficult to perform a translation that is as faithful as possible to the source language.

Moreover, a legal offense that exists in the source country may be defined in a different way or has a different legal weight in the country of the target language this might leave the translator on the horns of a dilemma: would the translator be opening a can of worms if the offense would still be translated in this way?

In an increasingly globalized business environment, where multinational companies interact with one another against the backdrop of the laws and legal systems of different countries, one cannot emphasize too much the significant risk in translation legal documents. Again, mistakes can be costly. And although legal translation may be a tad more expensive than ordinary translation, getting the services of a completely proficient translator may protect a company, organization, or individual from any potential legal complication. Competency in this field will be worth every penny in the long term.