Unique Requirements for Legal Translations
By Katherine at Legal Language
Posted on 03/22/2010
In Legal Translation
This is because legal translations must serve as official documents for any kind of legal papers, including court evidence, birth certificates, contracts and scholarly writings.
Legal translations are best produced by human translators. Here’s why:
Legal Translations Are Complex
Legal translations are inherently more complex than other kinds of translations because they often involve two systems of law.
Translators need to be cognizant of the legal systems of both the source language’s country and the target language’s country. A direct translation may not make sense, as the source text will have been written in a way which reflects that country’s culture and legal system.
It is the translator’s job to be sure that the same technical terms, reasoning and titles will be conveyed in a way that is legally valid.
Legal translations often need to convey the rights and duties of legal parties, so it is essential that everything is translated accurately. A single translation error could have far-reaching legal implications.
What’s more, when legal translations need to be used as evidence in court, certified translations are required.
Legal Translations Should Not Be Automated
Legal translations require thought and skill. When considering automated translations, the most important thing to remember is that a tool does not have the ability to think.
While using Google Translate or any other translation widget or program might be fine for getting the general idea of a website or document, it is far from being completely accurate.
Google Translate has made huge strides in improving automated translation, but even expert translators who gave the software favorable reviews know that there is a long way to go before machines can replace humans as the best translators.
An article by a translator in “Translation Journal” pointed out how important having a human translator is for certain documents, such as a Japanese patent that needed to be translated into English. A human translated part of the patent as this:
“(1) Figure 1 indicates a case when a metallic plate is used for a mask. In order to form pattern “a” with a corresponding mark “A” in metallic plate 4, the metallic plate must be formed with photoetching or a similar process, including a notch in the pattern, and bridge 11 must be formed to prevent partial detachment of the pattern from metallic plate 4.”
While the automated translation output the same sentence as this:
“circle 1.. In case of mask which uses metal sheet. You explain making use of Figure 1. pattern a which corresponds to mark “A” in metal sheet 4 is formed, the metal sheet 4 must be formed with photograph etching and not. As for this pattern b because of notch type, bridge 11 in order to prevent the coming out portion of metal sheet become necessary.”
Which excerpt makes more sense?
The Best Legal Translation Choice
For legal translation, and any other translation where accuracy is important, human translators are the best translators. Humans understand word meanings, phrasing, changes in verb tenses, and the concept (and importance) of accuracy.
When you are providing vital information — legal forms, government documents, company identities — isn’t it worth the extra time and money to get the best legal translation?