Primary Challenges of Legal Translation

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Translation of legal documents is always a challenging task. These documents include sensitive information and require accuracy as well as consistency. Any mistranslation in sensitive documents can alter the meaning of the original text leading to legal problems. 

Simply stated, precise translation is needed and it requires special attention to detail and a clear understanding of the legal terminologies. Therefore, it is important to take professional assistance when needed and ensure accuracy in the translated content.

What Does Legal Translation Involve?

A legal document (information) is technical and sensitive to translate. It not only requires linguistic skills but industry-specific knowledge is also important.

Professional legal translators reflect on the source documents to provide an accurate translation into the desired language. It’s not easy to transpose legal documents, due to their sensitive information, each type of legal text owns specific terminologies (known as a genre) that vary in nature and purpose, and that’s when a legal translation service comes handy. 

Every document and information is unique and confidential. In-depth knowledge about legal documents is compulsory to produce an accurate translation copy because the process is quite tricky. 

We have listed the top 5 challenges of translating legal documents.

  1. Legal system variations 

Each country has a unique governing system. Some governments are autonomous, democratic, or laissez-faire and with each governing body, the laws and implications will vary too. 

In simple words, the legal translation of each country is different. Ambiguity easily rises to the surface during the paperwork, which can cause errors in translation. A translator may be working on a French document and translating it into German and find it hard to use the right equivalent terminology. Sometimes the same terms can have different meanings in different parts of the world too. 

Experts need to be aware of such words and of multiple equivalent words as well. If they lack the proper knowledge to translate the legal document, the translation will be faulty and lack consistency too. 

  1. Change in the legal system is consistent 

Legal systems are not easily changeable but with time, policies, law, and regulation evolve or keep updating. You may have translated a document on policies in the Italian language two weeks ago, as compared to the document you are currently translating. It’s wise to keep yourself updated and stay inside the loop to translate the documents with efficiency.  

As templates and guidelines keep on changing, you need to stay updated and continuously study the changes taking place in the legal system. To avoid any trouble during the translation process you can start from practicing with legal magazines. Due to limited resources and tools, keeping up-to-date with the target country’s legal system can be a tad bit difficult because translation must preserve the syntactical patterns and nuances of the law. As a translator, if you are unable to do any of that, it will create problems. 

Reputed translation agencies are always looking for experienced translators with a native background which resolves the problem. Documents like birth certificates, immigration papers, college transcripts, etc., are kept on changing, so it’s a must to keep track of such changes. 

  1. Translating the ins and outs of the legal system 

Legal translation is a lot different than any other translation, it is not casual rather its always firm and in the active voice. 

Legal translations in English may use passive voice, whereas, in other countries, active voice is preferable to use to construct the meaning of the text. To be thorough with legal translation, a translator must understand certain legal phrases, accents, and so on to dissolve any error in translation without creating any ambiguity in the translated text. 

The difference in languages has a greater impact on legal documents. Even change in date formats can create confusion for the client leading to an innocent misunderstanding which is why translators must have a substantial amount of experience to translate the documents. Lexical, structural, and cultural considerations are also part of the legal system so you need to focus on the grammatical aspect of the legal documents as well. A single change in apostrophe or comma can change the entire meaning of the legal document too. 

  1. Strict deadlines are not favorable

What is the turnaround time of the translation agency you choose to work with?

Mostly freelance translators cannot keep up with the tight schedule and therefore are not the right choice as a legal translator. Legal documents involve court proceedings and hearing too with rigid deadlines given by the corporates which are professionally handled with an expert legal translation service to ensure a quality translation. 

The majority are unable to deliver as promised which puts the language service provider’s credibility questionable. Any delay in the translation project can ruin the reputation of the service provider, clients, and business partners. 

It also doesn’t work in favor of the company when legal-speak is highly criticized too. Some languages are easier to translate into while some languages like Chinese or Russian will require more time to translate than originally needed. This occurs due to the vast differences in the source and target language.

Always choose a language partner

Legal translation requires highly skilled translators with a high level of experience to demonstrate a good example of a well revised legal translation document. Considering the complexities of legal translations, it is better to hire an experienced language partner. When choosing a language service partner find out their strengths and see if they are a good match as per your company’s requirements.