Understanding the Challenges Faced By Legal Translators

Humans can choose to interact through different levels of communication that correspond to the purposes, complexities, and rigidities of language. Conversational language, for example, may be the easiest level of communication that a person uses. This level is commonly brought into play in informal settings, when friends talk to peers, when talking to family members or colleagues, or generally, when socializing with others. Translated into different languages, the level of conversational language may be the easiest to adapt to, in spite of the challenging problems of conveying the meanings of idiomatic and slang expressions, which are common in informal language.

Then there are academic levels, in which terms are definitive, often using the jargon of an academic discipline. Furthermore, the sentence syntax and vocabulary commonly tend to formality, implying adherence to grammar standards and precise vocabulary. In these situations, the main purpose is to instruct, and the words are commonly clarified and expanded on.

Poets and authors often use figurative speech and rely on symbolism and images, often also rhythms and cadences, to paint a more dramatic and compelling picture. This kind of language is used to tell a story or arouse powerful emotions to impact an audience in a certain way.

The most complex or rigid type of communication is probably one that is attempted by professionals in a certain technical specialty-people like doctors or lawyers, who adhere to very specific terms to describe precise conclusions and accurate decisions about their patients or clients. Legal writing, however, may be different. When translated into a different language, legal terms are probably the hardest to capture accurately because of the cultural understanding embedded in each of the terms. What’s more, the laws in different countries do not exactly correspond to each other, and the legal systems themselves may have developed from totally different precedents. Laws and legal language depend on the prevalent beliefs subscribed to by the nation and the ways in which the history of the beliefs translates into the legislation.

A majority of Americans are familiar with how all persons involved in the legal system carefully choose every word uttered in the courtroom and the proceedings leading up to trial. For example, the statement read to every person facing arrest, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be used against you in the court of law,” famously protects the individual’s right not to incriminate him or herself, as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. Given the sensitivity of anything that a person says, how much more sensitive will adjudicators be if you translate the law of one country , such as specific stipulations in their constitution, in an erroneous way? Whether you are using translation services for the purposes of your business, for immigration, or for other issues, you can never be complacent with just the literal translation of the words. You will have to understand the context of the whole law and what exactly it means in the target language to understand what exactly you will have to adhere to.

It is important to appreciate these nuances in language, to understand how complex and how challenging it is for legal translators to translate legal documents. One little mistake or mistranslation can cause prolonged litigation and greater costs.

Clearly, if you are the person needing legal translations, it is important that you protect your interests by insuring that your documents are translated by professional translation services that have broad experience in the field. Going through legal processes is onerous enough without opening yourself to avoidable mistakes and inexact language that can delay or cancel the project you hope to complete. Therefore, make sure that you have all the bases covered well by seasoned professionals in the translation business.

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