Merrill Brink News Reviews and Opinion on Nov 20, 2014: Important Factors to Consider When Selecting a Legal Translation Provider

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http://www.merrillbrink.com -- As many legal professionals can attest, the outcome of a court case can quite feasibly be decided by the manner in which key words are defined and used during the course of the legal matter.

Translation Services - Merrill Brink

Merrill Brink

To avoid these risks, it is critical that your company work with qualified professionals who can translate your legal texts, regardless whether they are in English or other languages.

As many legal professionals can attest, the outcome of a court case can quite feasibly be decided by the manner in which key words are defined and used during the course of the legal matter. When multiple languages are involved, the inaccurate translation of legal documents can result in costly errors and negatively impact the outcome of your case. To avoid these risks, it is critical that your company work with qualified professionals who can translate your legal texts, regardless whether they are in English or other languages.

When choosing a legal translation provider, keep the following facts in mind:

Translation and Interpretation are Different Skill Sets
If your legal matter requires the real-time interpretation of spoken words and the translation of written text, it can be tempting to hire one person to perform both tasks. However, there are critical differences between written translation and interpretation skills. Hence, an effective interpreter may not be able to translate legal written documents accurately and vice versa.

The best translators are skilled writers who typically work with texts in their secondary language and produce equivalent texts in their native language. They can—and are expected to—use dictionaries and other resources to ensure the accuracy of the connotation and denotation of the phrases they include in their translations.1

In contrast, interpreters are required to have excellent listening and speaking skills in order to instantly convey the meaning of spoken words in another language. They are often required to work in both directions, from their native language to their secondary language and vice versa.2 To increase the likelihood that translated texts and speech are conveyed accurately to all parties, it’s wise to invest in both interpreters and translators.

Translators Must Understand Legal Terminology in Both Languages
In addition to being able to write effectively in multiple languages, translators must also understand the legal jargon used in the text’s original and target languages. For example, someone who is unfamiliar with the Spanish legal term tráfico jurídico might translate it as “legal traffic” in English. This translation would be unclear, as traffic can mean many things in English, one of them negative (e.g., drug trafficking). A more accurate, albeit verbose translation would be, “the documents that facilitate legitimate business transactions.”3

Also, many legal terms used in the United Kingdom and United States are Latin rather than English. Translators must know the legal terms’ definitions and whether the same terms are commonly used in legal discourse in the target language. What English speakers would refer to as a bona fide error would be an erreur de bonne foi in French and a fahrlässiger Fehler in German.4

Translators Must Know Legal Document Style and Formatting Conventions in Both Countries
Familiarity with legal terms used in both languages may be sufficient for translating generic text, but additional knowledge is required to produce localised versions of specific legal documents. For example, certificates must typically have the expected appearance of a certificate in order to be legally recognised. When translating an English certificate for a Spanish court, for instance, the name of the person authorising the certificate should be moved from the bottom of the certificate to its beginning.5

As these examples show, it is important that the professionals you choose for legal document translation have expertise in the target language, understand the legal terminology used in that language and in English, and also know document formatting conventions for each type of document they translate. To ensure your documents are translated accurately and meet the requirements of international courts, partner with a reputable language services provider who offers a resource network of experienced legal translation professionals.

Full Article: http://www.merrillbrink.com/factors-when-selecting-a-legal-translation-provider-11102014.htm

References
1 Professional Issues Committee, Consortium for Language Access in the Courts, Guide to Translation of Legal Materials (April 2011), http://www.ncsc.org/education-and-careers/state-interpreter-certification/~/media/files/pdf/education%20and%20careers/state%20interpreter%20certification/guide%20to%20translation%20practices%206-14-11.ashx, pages 4–5 (accessed September 26, 2014).
2 Ibid, page 5.
3 Enrique Alcaraz and Brian Hughes, Legal Translation Explained (New York: Routledge, 2014), page 33.
4 Ibid, page 6.
5 Ibid, page 104.

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Vanessa Lontoc
Merrill Brink
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