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Legal Translations…What’s So Special?

by Chad Richardson

December 16, 2020

Legal translation is the challenging translation of the court’s traditional language, legal settings, and documents from one language to another. Translators interpret many forms and documents, including patents, court rulings, petitions, litigation documents, wills, transcripts, and financial documents.

Legal Language Variations

It may be surprising to hear that legal translation is much more complicated than translating non-legal text from one language to another. The translations are problematic because the terminology varies, depending upon location.  The legal translator must have rigorous knowledge of the legal system and how it works. Because legal language differs, legal translation may not be verbally linguistically transparent.

Legal writing is generally technical and precise. Proper verbiage ensures the legal documents are legally binding, and this means that the translation of the correct wording is essential. To avoid legal translation problems, it’s imperative that the text is authentic and doesn’t include any significant mistakes that would invalidate the contract. Courts will only accept accurate text.

Extensive Training

The legal translator must be trained extensively and have substantial legal system knowledge within multiple systems to adequately complete their duties. Examples of varying systems include source text vs. target text, etc.

Another issue is that legal language is not effortlessly spoken out loud from written text. The translator has the difficult task of turning spoken language into the correctly formatted written form. Before beginning any translation, it’s essential to decide which form of legal terminology the translator should use for the transcription.

Helpful Legal Translation Tools

Specialized bilingual or polyglot law dictionaries are available, and they are essential tools used by legal translators. However, translators should verify the information is correct because some bilingual dictionaries may have inaccuracies. There is a long-running debate in the legal world about whether the court should require the target text language or if the court should broaden the accepted legal vocabulary. For now, legal translations remain demanding.

Our team of legal translators is extensively trained and knowledgeable. Contact us for all of your legal translation needs.

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