Legal translators regularly come up against translation challenges. Any specialist legal translator must be able to understand the precise meanings of any legal matters in both the source language and the targeted language. There are also issues to be overcome with register and tone, which both contribute to a text’s accuracy. Even a simple ambiguity in terminology or tone can have a serious effect on a court case’s outcome. Any inaccuracy can invalidate a document, bring about delays due to lengthy revisions, and even cause problems between the client and translator. The complexity of a legal document translation emerges when the translation has to take into account the legal systems of the source language country and the targeted language.
The 3 challenges encountered by legal translators
1. Translating a Legal Document from One Legal System to a Different Legal System
Legal systems aren’t the same throughout the world. Some laws that are in existence in one country don’t have any equivalents in other countries. In order to provide a translation that’s accurate there mustn’t be any mistakes or ambiguities. This means that a legal translator must be highly conversant
2. The Translating of Legal Terminology
Legal English is loaded down with complicated compound structures in its sentences and crosses multiple subjects. There are also niche legal terms to deal with. Professional translators who specialise in legal translation need to be completely familiar with all the complicated legal terminology found in their pair of languages. It takes many years to accumulate knowledge and understanding of the different types of legal documents, and as 100% accuracy is required as well as consistency between the two languages the challenge is even greater. This is why it’s almost impossible for a non-specialist legal translator to handle competently a legal translation.
3. Translating the Voice and Tone
Legal English is generally written using the passive voice in a highly formalised tone. Other languages tend to use the active voice more regularly. It’s a very hard task to translate the register and the tone of voice of an English legal document into another language using the active voice. If this isn’t done well and accurately the translation won’t be as accurate as it should be.
Some businesses think they can reduce costs by hiring a certified translator who doesn’t specialise in legal document translations but this often fails because the complexity of a legal translation is too difficult for a non-specialist translator. A specialist legal translator is a highly skilled professional linguist with a massive encyclopaedic knowledge of different legal systems and their legal terminology.