Translating Legal Documents Can Be Challenging - Part 2

Sep 4, 2016 · 2 min

In translation, and even in legal documents, the tone must be maintained at all times.

Translating Legal Documents Can Be Challenging - Part 2 | One Hour Translation

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Another issue is that the translator puts bodily injury and death in different parts of the sentence, which in effect splits them and makes them subject to ambiguity when trying to establish liability.

Variations in Syntax

Various elements craft the syntax of a single sentence, and these include accents, apostrophes, colons, commas, and so on, and when it comes to legal translation, these elements can cause problems. As we know, minor changes in punctuation and moving the syntax around can change the whole meaning of the sentence. But when a translator is required to follow the syntax rules in two different languages, then the problem is greatly amplified. Integrity and fidelity must be maintained in the translation process in order for an effective and accurate translation to occur.

Register, or Tone

In translation, and even in legal documents, the tone must be maintained at all times. We often see inexperienced translators rendering an accurate meaning, but not having the experience or expertise to maintain the register or tone of the original text. This can cause several complications; the main ones being that the formal tone of a deposition could well be altered in the translated text, or the severity of tone of a legal notice may not be properly established.

Legal English is renowned for having a very impersonal, formal tone, and it usually refers to several subjects with complex sentences. In addition, it primarily uses the passive voice. Getting the right tone when translating into a language that generally uses an active voice can be a huge challenge for a translator. However, the real problem for translators is that these variations in tone could well bring about variations in the actual meaning of the text in question.

In Conclusion

It’s a translator’s job to prevent inaccurate and undesirable results when translating, and it’s imperative that they have the relative experience (meaning that they have practiced under both systems) so that things don’t go terribly wrong. Utmost care must be taken when translating even the simplest document, such as a birth certificate. Translators who handle birth certificate translations know only too well that a critical element in this type of translation is identifying the first name, the middle initial, and the family name (or house or tribe name). There cannot be mistakes in any legal document translations, so it’s critically important that all aspects be accurate in even the simplest translation. Any errors in legal translation could have dire consequences for the client, which of course ultimately leads to dire consequences for the translator. Experience is paramount when translating legal documents.

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