There are so many facets to legal translation and the skills required for a legal translator are stringent compared to other forms of translation.
In the olden days country borders were established to prevent or at least delay the entry of humans and products from another country. Today, in several regions of the world, national borders are almost non-existent. Europe for one allows all of its citizens to travel freely within Europe without a passport. Modern travel makes the world smaller and modern systems of communication make global communication possible in a matter of minutes or seconds. International free trade agreements are now in place in several countries.
Free trade agreements though are not as simple as they sound. First the parties engaged in the trade must be able to communicate among themselves. There are rules, commercial documents and contacts that should be executed and enforced. These documents also need to be translated in the languages that all the parties concerned understand and agree to.
Translating documents such as these are handled by legal translators, who are experts in the field, with a sound knowledge of the laws and the terminologies used in legal documents.
Legal translation is not confined to the translation of trade agreements and contracts. It encompasses all judicial and civil documents that require translation from a source language to a target language. These may include:
• Filings of trademarks and patents
• Legal certifications
• Witness and court transcripts
• Arbitration and litigation documents
• Letters of credit
• Legal disclaimers
• Registration documents
• Distribution agreements
• Partnership deeds
• Sales contracts
Personal documents may likewise need legal translation, such as:
• Birth certificates
• Immigration documents
• Marriage certificates
• Adoption papers
• Insurance policies
• Escrow instructions
• Last wills and testaments
• Powers of attorney
There are two basic skills required when doing legal translation. Aside from the knowledge of the original and target languages, there must be a very good understanding of the legal systems of the countries included in the documents for translation. The legal translator must not only retain the document information’s legal integrity but must also catch the nuance of the language, for the law and language are very closely related.
Legal translation calls for precision as the slightest mistake may involve costly legal repercussions. There is too much at stake in legal translating because the translator must comply with the rules of another country’s legal system as well as the rules of the target language. Great accuracy is required in the text as well as the context of the document being translated because the law has its own special terminologies, and each country has its own unique legal system.
This is where the difficulty lies. The textual conventions in the language of the source documents are frequently dependent on culture which may not correspond to that of the target culture. The linguistic structure of the original language may not have a direct equivalent in the target language as well.
When in need of a legal translator, choose one whose mother tongue is the target language. Check the level of qualification, relevant experience, specialization and education of the translator.
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