If you have ever used a free online service to translate a short text from one language into another, you are well aware that these tools have many drawbacks. Any translation for the workplace is best done by a qualified professional but, when it comes to legal document translation services such as contract translation it’s absolutely crucial to engage a specialized translator.
Legal documents are among the most difficult to translate, including other technical documents. Even if your company employs an in-house translator, when it comes to contracts and other legal texts, you will likely want to hire a translator who specializes in this kind of work. High quality legal document translation services involve skill in three separate areas: translation from the source language to the target language, use of technical vocabulary that applies specifically to the law, and knowledge not only of legal terms in the target language, but also of the legal system in the country where the document will be read.
Highly Technical Vocabulary
If you have an in-house translator, chances are this person’s focus is on vocabulary specific to the company’s products and services. Just as you would not ask a technical writer to draft a legal document, you should not expect a staff translator to tackle the translation of legal documents. Unless the volume of documents to be translated justifies providing for upgraded training, you will need to hire a specialized translator who is trained to handle legal documents.
Different Legal Concepts in Different Countries
One important factor to keep in mind is that, while the same language may be spoken in multiple countries in different regions of the world, the legal concepts and vocabulary are generally defined by the specific geographic region.
A document intended for use in Brazil might be translated into Portuguese, but the legal concepts and vocabulary might be quite different from those of Portugal. And the concepts from both countries might differ a great deal from those used in America. It is crucial that the translated document preserves the meaning of the source text despite these differences. Legal document translation requires the professional to be part translator, part legal specialist, part detective. This is a job for a highly trained translator who is able to apply the right mix of experience, research, and finesse.
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