How-to-translate-a-legal-document

How do I translate a Legal Document?

Samara Davis
By Samara Davis
editor

July 19, 2021


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  • When most of us think of legal documents, what comes to mind are obscure terms and convoluted ways of communicating what may seem like simple concepts. Legal document translation is now an almost necessary part of life. It’s because the law affects nearly every facet of our society.

    From the moment of our birth, aspects of legality play out in our lives, like acquiring birth certificates. From then onwards, an enormous portion of our life events becomes subject to these legal documents. These legal documents serve to reinforce their importance in society. Given the advances in communication technology and international trade, the translation of legal documents has become necessary to enable us to conduct commercial transactions in distant areas different from our own. Such issues as cross-cultural marriages and immigration also require legal document translation. Specific geographical locations generally have their languages and legal framework, making the profession of legal translation an essential service.

    To get the process of translating your legal documents underway, do the following:

    1) Enlist the Services of a Professional Translation Agency

    To get the best possible translation services, hiring a certified agency is the wise thing to do. The temptation to enlist the help of acquaintances and family can be overwhelming.

    Prudence dictates that professionals should handle legal translation; mistranslations and mistakes can have grave consequences for the parties involved.

    Certain purviews necessitate that some legal documents like immigration papers be taken care of by certified experts. This arrangement prevents amateurs from working on sensitive legal material regardless of whether those novices are native speakers of the language into which the document requires translation.

    2) Beware of the Syntax and Semantics

    The syntax of a language is the thing that bridges the gap and connects the meaning with intent. Most of us do not take heed of grammatical rules and errors in everyday written content. However, due to the sensitive nature of most legal documents, errors are vigorously discouraged. A misplaced word, a wrong comma, or a full stop can alter the meaning of an entire sentence. Such mistakes can be very costly and lead to legal proceedings against the translator. All legal documents need to adhere to basic and advanced grammar rules.

    3) Ensure That the Translator has Sufficient Knowledge in the Subject Area

    Different countries and regions of the world have disparate legal terminologies and nuances. Such provisions are usually part of their legal framework. Translations of any legal documents have to account for these nuances. A similar phrase of a language in one region can have a very different interpretation in another.

    Translators of legal documents have to adhere to the rules and expectations of the country in which they function.

    4)  Be Mindful of the Tone of the Document

    Misinterpretations in the manner and intent of legal texts can be the cause of serious legal problems. The tone of the legal document should not change after translation. If the document expresses a  sense of urgency or gravity to a particular aspect of such documents, the translator should endeavor to convey this in no uncertain terms.

    Some speakers of other languages believe, albeit wrongly, that legal documents written in English tend to demonstrate a certain laxity to them due to much use of passive voice. Such misconceptions can have grave consequences. It’s best to ensure that such legal documents receive proper considerations and attention. This helps to avoid issues of non-compliance with the law.

    4) Adhere to Stringent Deadlines

    Much like time, the law tends to wait for no man. It means that the process of translating any legal documents should respect the time factor. Court documents like injunctions and affidavits can be time-sensitive. The act of translation should involve efficiency to avoid unnecessary legal ramifications.

     5) Beware of Machine Translation Software

    If possible, avoid scenarios where you have to use software to translate a legal document. Such software can sometimes give erroneous translations and alter the meaning of the text. A certified human translator is better.

    All the above steps will help to improve the process of translating a legal document. Even though human translators are better, it’s crucial to remember their fallibility. These translators need to be diligent, professional and have excellent research skills that are beyond reproach.

    Ultimately, translation of legal documents is simply a job that requires high skill levels and commitment. The stakes can be very high. Certified professionals can ensure that litigious individuals avoid protracted legal proceedings through accurate document translation.

    Likewise, read: A Guide to the Best Document Management Software for Law Firms

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