If you are going to listen to lectures at a prestigious European university or draw up documents for obtaining a residence permit abroad, the question of translation into the language of the country where you plan to travel arises. Legal translation is a special branch of linguistics, a process on the correctness of which depends, if not a person’s life, then his quality.

General concepts of legal translation

  • Legal translation is a highly specialized field that requires the translator to have deep knowledge in the field of jurisprudence and law.
  • A documentis a material medium with information recorded on it (text, sound recording, image).
  • A legal documentis a material containing information of a legal nature.

6 main types of legal translation:

  • translation of agreements, contracts and agreements regulating the process of purchase and sale, delivery of products, lease of residential and commercial premises, employment contracts;
  • translation of licenses and memoranda;
  • translation of legalization documents on the territory of another country;
  • normative legal acts: laws, protocols;
  • documents submitted to the court;
  • translation of apostilles, powers of attorney, certificates, decisions.

In fact, the classification is much broader. The services of a professional may be needed by someone who is faced with the task of presenting a translated power of attorney, bank guarantees, tender offers and applications, business correspondence, a business plan, etc. Legal translation involves working with documents establishing legal and business relations. It includes translation and editing of texts, studying the context, thorough knowledge of the field. It is also worth remembering that footers, footnotes, inscriptions on seals and stamps, any corrections made by hand, tables, lists and indexes are subject to adaptation into a foreign language.

Requirements for a legal translator

A translator of legal materials must not only have a perfect knowledge of the language, its grammar, stylistics and vocabulary. He must be “his own” in the legal field, know the intricacies of legislation, the details of the legal systems of other countries and international standards.

You can just sit down and translate the material without delving into the specifics, without studying the context. But what is the value of such a translation? And what are the guarantees that you will not be denied consideration? At best, you simply won’t get a PNP. At worst, the slightest inaccuracy can lead to financial loss or a lawsuit.

Who is a professional translator? This is a person who is fluent in a foreign language, knows a certain field of law, possesses a specialized “legal foreign language” with its own vocabulary.

Difficulties of legal translation

The specificity lies in the fact that legal translation requires perseverance, scrupulous selection of foreign analogues. Legalese deserves special attention – legal jargon, the concepts of which are often difficult to understand. However, they are common and familiar to the Anglo-American legal family. For example, the expression voir dire (French) – “preliminary questioning of witnesses” or the term trespass, which brought a new concept into English law – “intrusion into someone else’s property without the consent of the owner.” Editing in legal translation

Sometimes the translator is approached by people who do not need a translation from scratch, but a proofreading of an already adapted text. This happens when the quality of the translation prepared by a third-party company leaves much to be desired. In this case, the editor proofreads the material, not only correcting spelling and grammatical errors. He checks the correctness of the choice of words and terms, evaluates the clarity of the text, its expressiveness, coherence. Checks the presence of slang and relevant vocabulary, evaluates whether the style of the source material is followed. Conscientious correction changes everything – from conveying the message to preserving the customer’s image.

The necessary quality of translations

Translation into and from a foreign language must be competently performed and understood by the addressee. It is important that it reads and sounds in the translated language as if it were written in that language. Here it is important to take into account not only the sequence of using terminology, but also the cultural component.

Distinctive features of legal terms

The legal term is characterized by conservatism and stability. Also, the legal language, as well as the language in general, is characterized by such negative phenomena as:

  • ambiguity (“climate” – “situation”, “situation”);
  • special jargon;
  • commonly used words take on a special meaning (“emancipation” – “capacity of an adult”).

Complexities of translating legal texts

  • the name of the contract can be conveyed in different ways, and their contents may differ in terminology. An Amendment Agreement may contain the same terms with different meanings, for example, with a Premises Lease or a Labor contract. If the customer’s company has developed a certain practice, it is worth listening to the wishes;
  • the word Confusion is often used in the decision to merge two firms, but it is not the “confusion” we are used to. In the field of law, the correct translation of this term is “fusion”;
  • it is worth paying attention to such school examples as the use of the words city and town. The first is used to designate cities of regional significance, millionaires (Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro), the second – for small cities, large villages, small towns (Konotop, Vapnyarka, etc.);
  • in official duties, it is incorrect to alternate the imperative and the valid way. Personal verb forms familiar to English must be translated impersonal-predicative or resort to imperative models (“Get started”, “Slid get started” instead of ” You should get started“).

Linguistic features of legal texts

Since French, Latin and Old English vocabulary items are often present in foreign documents, a legal translator must be knowledgeable in this area. Acts are characterized by lexical redundancy and verbosity. Pronominal adverbs are used quite often in legal language (hereinafter – in the future, whereas – while, thereof – this, hereto – before this), a significant number of objections and impersonal constructions. When creating a translation, it is worth considering that legal texts are characterized by the dominance of the singular over the plural, the masculine over the feminine, and the present tense over the future.

Grammatical problems of legal translation

It may seem that only translation from languages ​​of different language groups can cause difficulties. However, even related translation languages ​​can confuse a qualified professional. Yes, an incorrect translation of the surname from Russian to Ukrainian can cause difficulties during the registration of inheritance (not Lermontov, but Lermontov, not Golubev, but Golubev). Most likely, such an inaccuracy as the use of the preposition “v” between difficult-to-pronounce sounds such as “св”, “хв”, “тв”, “лв”, “ф” (conference in Lviv) will not cause serious consequences . However, if we are talking about a quality translation, it consists of such little things.

Types of legal texts

Legal documents are divided into 4 types:

  1. Normative. Establish objective rights and obligations.
  2. Interpretive. Documents clarifying the content of legal norms.
  3. Those that record legal facts. These are passports and birth certificates, certificates on the allocation of land for construction, documents on deeds, etc.
  4. Those containing decisions of an individual nature. They reflect the will of a specific person. They entail certain legal consequences for a specific person (persons).

What aids are used during translation?

It is difficult to imagine the activities of a modern translator without special programs that allow you to significantly speed up work.

There are many Computer Assisted Translation tools: Trados, SmartCAT, MemoQ, Déjà Vu, MultiTerm, XTM. Some of them perform automated, non-machine translation, which needs to be completed by a specialist. Others have many features and fine-tuning and are used not only for large projects, but also for non-trivial tasks.

How good should a legal translation be?

In order for the client to receive an adequate official document that will not cause doubts on the part of the receiving party, professional translators should be consulted. The legal translation must be of high quality so that the ultimate goal of the bearer is achieved, and his motives are interpreted correctly.

It is logical to assume that the process of text adaptation is reduced to the selection of meaningful elements in the original and the search for units in the second language that maximally reproduce the same content in the translation. It is no less natural that not all units can be reproduced with accuracy. Whatever the subject, it is inevitable that a certain part of the material cannot be reproduced in the form in which it is present in the original. Then all kinds of substitutions, equivalents and abbreviations come to the rescue.

So what is it, the perfect translation? The one that creates a unity of form and content similar to the original, but allows for a minimum number of changes for its accuracy. Yur. translation is a task that has many pitfalls. One experienced specialist is able to correctly translate 6-7 pages of source text per day. If the task is urgent, several translators work on the document. The price is determined depending on the language of the translation, subject and volume. The presence of schemes, diagrams, images in the materials is important.


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