Legal translation – What is it?

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Legal translation is simply the translation of law- related texts. It involves the translation of law documents, witness statements, filed patents, transcripts, reports, legal rulings, immigration documents, wills and deeds, trusts, litigation papers, arbitration documents, licensing agreements and many more. Legal translators work to replace source texts with target texts. However, it is not quite simple.

Ok, so about Legal translation… it cannot be done directly or in any manner because law is culture-dependent and attempting to interpret without seeking the source of the text may lead to misinterpretation and probably lawsuits. Legal translation requires using the terms and content of the legal system of the country of the place where the source text originated from.
Legal translators, most often, have to ensure that the text translated is legally operative.

They must accurately translate specific rights and duties as mistakes can lead to lawsuits and disagreements. They also consider the source text ad the target text and do not assume that they are the same.

Words or phrases in the source text may have no direct meaning or translation in the legal text. This means legal translators have to find cultural and social relationships between the source text and the target text in an attempt to clearly define rights and duties. This requires great consistency, accuracy and a thorough understanding of the law.

If mistakes are made in any form, the whole document becomes void. There could also be legal and financial complications.
Direct translations are greatly avoided by legal translators as they have to consider the different grammar structures and legal rules guiding different legal systems across countries. Another difficulty encountered by legal translators is the differences in legal systems.

Countries have different legal systems. This is because while some countries mix religion, culture, and law, there are clear distinctions of those core areas in other countries.

The translator has to consider if the context and the interpretation will fit into the purpose of legal translation. There is also the difficulty of translating legal documents in passive voice to a foreign language in active voice.

How to get Legal translation?

Because legal translation is complex and technical, machine translators are just not sufficient. This is because of the complications encountered when dealing with different legal systems and cultures or religion. The source text may also not have legal expressions in the target text.

Only a translator can interpret and use the required words. It must also be error free as they also are needed to translate sensitive documents like birth certificates, court , and affidavits.

As such, it is best to hire a legal translator with great expertise and experience. It’s not just about being able to translate words from one language to another. A good legal translator must be able to offer accurate interpretation and must take into consideration legal terms guiding both countries.

A good legal translator should be one familiar with the legal systems of the countries where the languages are spoken. Experience plus great skill and accuracy is what really makes a good legal translator.

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