Techniques of Legal Translations

Legal translation is the translation of texts within the field of law. As law is a culture dependent subject field, legal translation is not a simple task. Only professional translators specializing in legal translation should translate legal documents and scholarly writings. The mistranslation of a way in an agreement, for example, could lead to law suits and loss of money.

When translating a copy within the field of law, the translator must maintain the subsequent in mind. The legal method of the source text is prepared in a way that suits that ethnicity and this is replicated in the legal language; in the same way, the target text is to be read by someone who is familiar with another legal system and its language.

A professional in legal translation must be a linguist, a legal intellectual and a bit of a willing detective so that he is able to glean the finer points out of any text. And he should also be capable of researching how to describe legal concepts expressed in the source language of a document that may not even have an equivalent in the language or legal system of the target text.

In the very first stage, the translator must decipher the source text and reconstruct its meaning in the target text. In numerous cases, there is some restriction for the translator to finding a functional comparable for a word or phrase or a parenthetical clarification because an accurate translation is impossible.

Translators of legal texts often seek advice from law dictionaries, especially bilingual law dictionaries. Care should be taken, as some bilingual law dictionaries are of poor quality and their use may lead to mistranslation.

Every legal translator should maintain some rules, when they translate something. Translation must be taken from original copies, and should be translated completely and accurately. It should approximately follow the format and layout of the source text. The translator cannot change any name of people, titles and marks of nobility, not even the spelling of that name. It should be taken from original document.

An expert legal translator should also know that even within the legal field there are entirely separate vicinity of law that entail specific translation techniques: a contractual text has little in common with a determination, an administrative certificate, a judicial decision or a statute, to name a few examples. The translator knows that he or she must consult not only a monolingual legal dictionary, but also a dissertation regarding the subject matter, and that bilingual dictionaries while useful, should be used with vigilance.

Apart from terminological lacunae, or lexical gaps, the translator may focus on the following aspects. Textual conventions in the source language are often culture-dependent and may not correspond to conventions in the target culture. Linguistic structures that are often found in the source language have no direct equivalent structures in the target language. The translator therefore has to find target language structures with the same functions as those in the source language.

When faced with international arguments connecting different languages and legal structures, legal adviser and their clients would be well recommended to obtain the services of translators able to successfully viaduct the divide of legal systems, as well as language and culture, in order to provide literate rather than literal translations.

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