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Challenges of Legal Translation

Legal translation challenges to consider

Of all the different forms of specialised translation, legal translations deserve to be treated with the most diligent care. The challenges in getting these forms of translation right cannot be overstated, and this work should not be trusted to just anyone. Only trust professionals.

But what makes legal translation such a delicate subject?

1. Language

In law, the devil is in the detail, and for that reason Lawyers and Legislators choose their words carefully. Communication in legal matters should have as little room as possible for misinterpretation.

Translators need to understand the full context of the document they translate, of course. But they must also convey the exact message, without leaving room for misinterpretation.

2. Legal systems

Many countries have similar legal systems (Commonwealth, Napoleonic code-based, etc.). But, at the same time, a lot of them also have wide-ranging variations. This puts a burden on the translator, as she needs to create the target document in such a way that the intended audience will understand it within the context of their own legal system.

On the back of that, remember that they still have to keep the significance of language in mind.

3. Syntax

Over the years, the English language has borrowed plenty of words from other languages. Internationalisation exacerbates that trend. So we often find documents making passive statements, obscure generalisations, unclear ambiguities (eg: the word ‘you’ could mean a single person or a group), and others. 

When the target language has a different syntactical base and structure, translating becomes a battle of not just words but deeper meanings and specificity.

Everybody knows that a literal translation is often not good enough to convey the original message. Or to adapt to a foreign market that we want to sell in. However, when it comes to legal translation, being accurate and literal is often the best recipe for success.

4. Certification of legal translations

We have been saying this subtly, but we have to elaborate here:

You can easily get lost if you have no experience in the legal world. Without the right knowledge and experience, legal terms might be interpreted literally or out of context. 

Legal systems around the world have improved historically. Additions and modifications are constant.

A professional legal translator will, often, have a certification in the legal industry which ensures proper understanding of both the ideas, and complex concepts — as the case may be. In some specific cases, a Sworn Translation may be appropriate.

Conclusion: Legal translation

To conclude, you should take extra care when hiring legal translators. Do you want experienced lawyers to pick apart your poorly-translated contracts? If not, use a team of highly experienced legal translators. At QuickSilver Translate we offer a bridge between our customers, and quick, accurate and affordable legal translations. 

Reach out to us today to get a quote for your document.

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