The Legal Translation Environment

Translation activities are performed within a large arena or environment.  This environment is made up of two major components: the cultural environment and the legal environment.  While we have already discussed the cultural environment with respect to the legal translation field, the legal environment can offer just as many opportunities and challenges to experiences translation workers.

The political environment, the practices and policies of governments, and the legal environment, the laws and interpretation of regulations, may restrain or facilitate translation activity.  As one Portland Portuguese Translation worker explains, the political and legal environment can act in several ways.  It can limit the actions marketers are allowed to take, for example, by restricting the percentage of foreign ownership of a company operating in another country (e.g., because of the Export Administration Act strategic high technology products could not be exported to the Soviet Union but foods and grains could be).  Some actions may be required, for example, the requirement that cookies called “Chocolate Chip Cookies” contain chips made of real chocolate or the requirement that the surgeon general’s warning be printed on cigarette packages.  Lastly, certain actions can be prohibited including the legal sale of products such as opium, heroin an nuclear weapons except under the strictest of controls.

According to Philadelphia French Translation professionals, political processes in other countries may have dramatic impacts on international marketers.  For example, political forces were clearly at play when China agreed to let the Coca-Cola Company market Coke in China after the Soviet Union agreed to permit the marketing of Pepsi in Russia.  Another example included the Iran-Iraq war which disrupted trade and shipping in the Persian Gulf.

Before ending this discussion of the different aspects of translation’s environment, we should note that parts of this environment interact with each other.  Therefore, effective translators must consider the whole of the environment of the industry that they work in, not just its parts.

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