The Importance of Back Translation for Legal Documents
Simply put, back translation involves translating a text from one language to another, and then back again (without referencing the source document, of course).
When comparing the original with the back translation, it’s easy to see whether everything was translated properly.
While this method does lengthen the translation process, it is often worth the extra time and effort — particularly when you need a certified legal translation.
Why Back Translation Is Helpful
When done properly, back translation ensures that a text has been accurately rendered into a second language. There is always a risk of errors when translating legal documents — people often argue over how to interpret them, even in their original language! Back translation is especially useful for catching potentially confusing or ambivalent language — this is perfect for legal translation, where clarity is paramount.
Other potential errors could include anything from the incorrect translation of a few words to simple typos. In most cases, you need to hire a professional translator who is a neutral third party to complete the back translation process for you.
This being said, back translation is not required or recommended for all translations. As long as your document has been edited and proofread carefully after being translated, you won’t necessarily need back translation to double check it. This is especially true when you have a short, simple document that won’t easily be misinterpreted.
Back Translation of Contracts
Contracts in particular are good candidates for back translation, as it can be very problematic if the same contract in two different languages has contradictory clauses. (In fact, this is how New Zealand came to be!)
Translation is not a science. Different translators may choose different words or phrasing to capture the same idea, and it’s imperative to ensure that the words chosen properly render the same sentiment as the original language.
What’s more, due to cultural and language differences, it is highly recommended to procure back translations for Chinese contract translations — it’s better to start with an ironclad contract than to waste endless time and money in legal fees down the road.
Back Translation Gives Peace of Mind
In general, back translation can provide you with some extra reassurance when it comes to your legal translation. Legal Language’s standard process of using a professional translator, editor and proofreader is more than enough for most jobs. If you’re unsure whether back translation is advisable for your project, our translation team can advise you on how to proceed.
If you wish to do absolutely everything you can to avoid making a potentially expensive or embarrassing mistake, consider back translation for especially complex legal translations.