Some facts about legal translation
When it comes to translating documents, every letter matters. Legal translation is similar to medical in this regard – a single mistake in translation can have tragic consequences. Legal translation is a rapidly growing field, and there is increasing demand worldwide for these services.
So, what are the unique characteristics of legal translation?
Translation of legal documents is necessary to conduct various international relations and to exchange information or experience between legal professionals from different countries.
So, this type of translation is one of the most difficult. It requires the knowledge of a foreign language and a perfect understanding of jurisprudence, various legislations, and international standards. Therefore, for an accurate and reliable result, the translated text must be adequate in terms of jurisprudence.
Consequently, translation of legal texts covers such areas of jurisprudence as constitutional law, administrative and civil law, commercial and tax law, criminal and international law. Clients in need of legal translation services can range from immigrants who require a few personal documents translated, to large multinationals entangled in complex court proceedings.
Moreover, there are many types of more common juridical documents that might require translation. Marriage, birth, and death certificates, diplomas, driving licenses, and others may need to be translated for various reasons.
Important quality aspects
An expert legal translator understands long sentences and can translate them so they don’t lose their meaning. When dealing with lengthy clauses in a legal text, a professional should use the “husk clearing” and “formatting” techniques. If there are many details or digressions in a sentence, first remove everything secondary, translate the main subject of the text, and then add the details:
For example “Break Cost Amount” will be determined in respect of a party as the present value, as of the Early Maturity Date, as determined by the Calculation Agent using a discount rate determined by it in its sole discretion, of all amounts which would, but for the occurrence of the Early Maturity Date, have become payable by such party after that date.
“Break Cost Amount” – the present value of all amounts which would have become payable after the Early Maturity Date.
Several years of professional experience or a good number of successfully translated documents in a particular country are a necessity.
For example, in many agreements, contracts, or other legal texts drafted by the English legal system, one is likely to come across the following well-established adverbs: wherein, thereto, herein, hereby, hereafter/hereinafter, etc. If they are mistranslated, such a seemingly insignificant error may affect the actual meaning of the agreement. A correct translation of legal documents from English is, in the first place, an indication of the professionalism, skills, and ability of the translator you have chosen.
Specific knowledge of legal translation theory
It should not be forgotten that special requirements are imposed on legal texts and, consequently, on their translation: clarity, accessibility, or the unambiguity of wording. The theory of law has a special “legislative technique” section: a set of tools, rules, and techniques of development, registration, publication, and systematization of normative legal acts. It seems that the theory of legal translation must interact with this science and absorb its achievements. The translator must know and apply the basic guidelines for preparing legal acts. Here are some of them:
- precision, clarity, and simplicity. The language of the law must be devoid of emotional coloring, “pompous solemnity, semantic elevation, or domestic grounding”.
- clarity of definitions of terms; absence of ambiguous and polysemous terms; prohibition of the use of unambiguous words (i.e. words that are not defined in legislation and are not commonly understood); unambiguity of concepts (synonyms, homonyms are not allowed)
- positivity of a formula (no more than one negation);
- brevity (absence of repetitions and low-informative formulations in the text of the law, the inadmissibility of the use of participatory and de-participatory clauses).
Translators use both linguistic and extra-linguistic knowledge (analytical mindset, age, experience, logic). Linguistic and extra-linguistic knowledge constantly interact, making it possible to guess the meaning of a missing word, determine the gender of an unknown term, and avoid ambiguity. A translator who “understands” the meaning of all linguistic units may not immediately grasp the overall meaning. According to the Interpretive translation theory, translation without sufficient extra-linguistic knowledge is not possible.
Legal translation by Translators Family
We are a team of native Polish, English, German, Ukrainian and Russian translators, and editors, all with vast experience in legal translations. And we are always ready to assist you in meeting all the requirements mentioned above.
Why choose us?
- We specialize in English, Polish, German, Ukrainian, and Russian legal translations.
- We have an in-depth knowledge of the legal principles of Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
- A project manager is always available for your translation projects.
- We carry out translations for urgent projects.
We have a multi-step process in place to ensure the accuracy and high quality of our translations. Here’s how we guarantee this:
- Our project managers are themselves English/German/Ukrainian/Russian/Polish translators and proofreaders who understand all the nuances of translation.
- Our translators are native speakers of the target language, so you can be sure that your, for example, English into Russian translation will be carried out by professional Russian translators.
- We have legal experts on hand to verify and double-check the technical details of the finished piece and make sure it has been translated accurately and by the juristic terms of the target language.
- We assign a dedicated project manager to our regular clients. During the client’s working hours, so any urgent job can be turned around quickly, in time for a looming deadline or date of legal proceedings.
- We’ve translated countless juristic documents from English and German into Russian and Ukrainian, including volumes of text for businesses as well as various agreements and contracts, private papers, and certificates for private individuals.
Our team of native Polish, English, German, Ukrainian and Russian translators, and editors, all with vast experience in legal translations, is always ready to assist you. We guarantee results that will not let you down at an important moment.
What you should consider when choosing Polish, English, Ukrainian, German, and Russian legal translators for your important project?
Legal translation is, not surprisingly, a field that requires specialist translators. It’s not enough for the linguist to be fluent in the language. Legal translation adds an extra layer of complexity, which comes from more than just the presence of specialist terms in the text. Confused? Allow us to explain.
The system of law of the source language reflects the legal culture of the country that it comes from. The translator needs to be able not only to translate the meaning of the words but also to take account of the legal culture of the source country, and express it in terms of the legal culture of the target language. It’s almost like performing two simultaneous translations of one document!
Some interesting examples
Here is a simple example. In Ukraine, we have a type of business entity of (translating literally) a “physical person – entrepreneur”. In Russia, the same type of business entity is called (translating literally) an “individual entrepreneur”. How to translate it correctly into English? Literally, or by finding an equivalent in Anglo-Saxon legislation? Which legislation should be used – one which is applicable in the US, the UK, or perhaps another country altogether? If you are translating into British English, we suggest using the British equivalent – “sole trader”. If into American English, then “sole proprietor” would be a better fit. And there exist far more complicated juristic terms, which often should not be translated word for word, but localized into the target language.
A competent legal translator will scour the source document for the fundamental legal points in the text. The translator will then pinpoint the underlying rights and obligations of individuals and parties. And express those in legal terms that are culturally appropriate for the target language and country.
Whether you’re a large business involved in complex proceedings or an individual who just needs a document or two translated, we’ll translate your legal documents quickly and accurately.
Feel free to contact us or request a quote.