Under our global community, individuals, companies and governments are all closely connected more than ever before. Law system is established for human interaction activity to protect each and every party’s interest and right. Legal translation has then become an indispensable part to facilitate smooth communication between parties who speak different languages.
Documents require translation
From international trades, government operations to individual activities, there are numerous types of legal documents requiring translation. For companies looking for expansion, mergers and international trade, contracts, licenses, patents, financial documents and audit documents are the common documents that require translation. Governments from all around the world and international organisations prepare different translated versions of regulations, policies and certificates to facilitate international cooperation. Individuals count on legal professionals to prepare wills and trusts, litigation documentation and so on.
Examples of translation error incidents
In June 2015, the renovation of Brussels opera hall De Munt was forced to postponed by four months due to a translation error. In the public procurement, the Dutch phrase scenische werken (scene works) was wrongly translated as des travaux scénographiques (scenographic works). As a result, the De Munt productions were to be seen at other locations in the city and numbers of season ticket holders preferred to skip a season.
In April 2012, a Romanian interpreter from Applied Language Solutions misinterpreted the word “beaten” as “bitten” during a London court trail. The mistake only came to light when the prosecution questioned the defendant. The consequence was a trial suspension, dismissal of the jury and an additional £25,000 for a retrial.
Legal translation key points
The complex-compound sentence structure intertwined with legalese make legal documents difficult to read, not to mention to translate into another language accurately. Besides, the law is an unstable discipline, relying on some abstract and changing notions. It is important that legal translators with in-depth and update knowledge of legal terminology understand the legal implications of what is being translated.
Legal translation always emphasises the accuracy and precision of the work. Yet, as law belongs to the same category of knowledge as politics and ethics, their reliance on natural language caused them to be mixed with ambiguity. Sometimes in a legal text, ambiguity is not viewed as a defect but as an inherent feature which should be retained in translation. Ambiguity can be used to reach a compromise in a contract while it can also be a diplomatic tactics in the case of international treaties. The translator should be able to identify ambiguity, decide it is deliberate, or choose to retain it in the translation.
Translators could only achieve a superficial word-for-word translation if they have inadequate knowledge of the legal system. Legally experienced translators are able to creatively adapt to references to legal terms which have no immediate equivalent in the legal system of the country where the target language is prevalent. As the definition of a concept can be different in different country, for instance, the legal age for marriage is 22 for men in China while there is no minimum legal age for marriage in Saudi Arabia, the translator should be aware of the differences between legal systems and legal concepts all over the world.
Elite Asia’s legal translation team has extensive experience in translating all types of legal documents, including agreements, contract, litigation documents, etc. Linguists are carefully selected who are specialised in the legal industry, delivering error-free documents that are specific to your deadline and requirements.
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