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Law is a special-purpose language that is written by law-makers for the masses. However common people find it difficult if not impossible to interpret law and its technicalities, and therefore, they hire a lawyer to handle their legal issues. The common man understands legal words like “Guilty,” “Not Guilty,” “I Do,” and others, and perhaps nothing else.
This means that law is written by law-makers and read by lawyers. Most common folk cannot understand this special-purpose language.
So, what about legal document translators? If such document translators are not lawyers, can they translate a legal document correctly? Can they bring out its context?
Legal translation is a very complex subject, which is nevertheless required because the world is becoming smaller by the day, and business is being conducted around the world. Here are the issues surrounding legal translation:
Legal Translation Problems
- Legal language is framed based on the country, its culture, language preferences, etc. A Chinese legal translator, who is aware of Chinese law, may find it easy to translate from English to Chinese. But he may find it difficult to translate from Chinese to English mainly because he does not know the nuances and language preferences that are found in American law.
- Every language is dependent on culture-specific and institutional factors. This is the most difficult part of legal translation. Legal words that denote a concept or an institution or special legal terms in one language may not exist in the target language. Translators have to use the functional equivalent and sometimes that can impact the document’s context.
- If a legal system of one country does not have anything in common with that of another country or countries, then translation can become near-impossible, or deeply flawed.
- Translating word for word can also impact the translated document if the words have to change place for the sentence to make sense.
- Problems can arise because of the difference in the systems, syntactic arrangements and word order of the source and target languages. Many English sentences start with a verb and this can create complexities for the translator. Word order differences too can create translation hassles.
- If a country has not standardized its legal terminology, then the translator will find it tough to identify one term for a concept or situation.
- The age of the legal text is very important. Many countries have not updated their old legal language that was once used to write laws. If the source text is new and the target text is old-world, or vice versa, then the translator can have a torrid time.
There’s just one solution to the vexatious issue of legal translations – you should work with a professional legal document translation company that specializes in legal translation. Such companies hire qualified and experienced legal translators and proofers who know the source and target cultures, and they sometimes even hire lawyers to translate and cross-check the translated document. Legal translation is a very complex process and errors can ruin the whole context and cause unnecessary acrimony after the document is signed. Therefore, it is better to be work with a professional legal translation service.
Writer Amad B. Rashid hails from Texas and recommends Legal Translation Solutions for companies and law firms in need of high quality legal document translations.
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