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When people ask why it’s essential to have legal documents translated professionally and accurately, I reply that an inaccurate translation can lead to extremely serious outcomes.
Translation and law are both very different things, but the word of the law is the word of the law – whether it’s in an ordinance, a contract, a license, a confidentiality contract or a witness report, and it must be accurate in any language. Assuring that legal document translation is correct, in the language, they are being translated into, is essential.
Like any other written document, legal documents can contain proposal; intentionally included to induce or control. Maintaining that nuance isn’t always easy, and requires close attention by experts in both the law and linguistics. By translation, we mean how it is understood legally and linguistically. Accuracy is vital, to avoid confusion and misinterpretation.
The law is also an adversarial face where battles and chances are won and lost by definitions. Legal document translation is not a field where close enough is good enough. Like all good legal work, good legal translation leaves no tricks, uses terms correctly, and draws clean lines.
When translating into different languages, several terms often lack specific, one-for-one equivalents. What’s black and white in English maybe hei-and-bai in Chinese, which is more like dark and light. Experienced legal translation is not just a matter of identifying two languages; it’s a matter of understanding two languages well enough to make the accurate legal point that helps your client’s interest.
Inconsistency is an essential feature of legal terminology. Legal terms reflect law couched in particular cultures and stories, revealing the communities in which legislation is established and those communities’ legal conclusions. Difference between legitimate readings can occur from different historical backgrounds and subsequent asymmetry of legal structures ranging from near equivalence to complete opposition.
All of this makes accurate legal document translation a challenge suited only to the most skillful specialists.
On occasion, a common legal expression in a source language might have no exact equivalent in the target language. In such states, even if a literal translation is theoretically possible, it might make no legal sense. An excellent legal translator will have to define the legal theory, paraphrasing in full decisions what the source document displays in small words.
Professional legal translators need more than just the general linguistic training required of all translators. They must also be excellent writers with precise technical knowledge of two distinct syntactic formations, two logic systems, two sets of grammar, and two vast dictionaries. Legal translation uses two sets of terms, each as tough to master as the other.
If your business works in multiple languages, the legal translator you hire should understand the history and culture of your home country and country’s unique legal records and customs. Always ask for qualifications and credentials to be sure that your translation service can offer you with translated documents that are just as accurate as the original text.
Errors are not admissible in any cases of translation though it is essential that legal documents be adequately translated with the original meaning remaining intact. Mistakes in legal translation could lead to decisions that adversely affect individuals as well as national security, diplomatic connections, etc.
When it comes to legal document translation, getting it right is essential, with the potential for so much to go incorrect, but with the professional translator bringing the best skills to the table, businesses can rest assured that they are on the solid legal ground.
When what’s at risk is important, it’s not worth risking it with a cheap translation.