As international communication becomes easier (and faster), it’s becoming increasingly feasible for companies to develop international trade, and so expand their business overseas.
Sure, this offers new opportunities and possibilities, but it also poses challenges as companies attempt to adapt their operations to different cultures and languages.
Many of these challenges are found in the legal department, where businesses are faced with the challenge of translating legal documents and contracts into multiple languages, while at the same time adapting to the different legal structures and legislation in place in each country.
We’ve taken a look at these two major challenges to identify how modern businesses can overcome the difficulties of legal translations and keep their focus on success abroad.
Translating Legal Systems
In order to translate a legal document from one language to another, the translator first needs to have a solid understanding of the legal systems themselves. According to Alenka Kocbek, of the University of Primorska in Slovenia, the legal system should actually be considered an essential aspect of any given culture, making it vital that translators respect the nuances of the law in each respective country.
In other words, translators should consider that similar legal concepts can be phrased entirely differently from country to country.
Equally, circumstances exist in which one legal system has a concept for which there is no equivalent in another country. Ms Kocbek, cites equity as an example of this; it’s an important part of the English legal system, but there is no exact counterpart in continental law.
Navigating these difficulties requires more than just language skills, and many of the most successful language agencies rely on legal translation experts who possess both an understanding of the legal concepts they’re dealing with and an excellent grasp of the languages themselves.
Translating Tone and Terminology
Even once the differences between legal systems have been taken into account, legal translators face the challenge of translating legal terminology and linguistic tone of voice from one language to another.
A language in itself, ‘legalese’ poses a plethora of issues to translators unfamiliar with the language of the law, and requires its own translation to ensure any documents drafted in a new target language mirror the tone and semantics of each original term.
Lexical, structural and cultural considerations, including idioms, tone of voice, and colloquialisms, all need to be given careful consideration during the translation process to guarantee accuracy.
And if that wasn’t enough, there’s then the issue of syntax to consider. The use of commas, colons accents and apostrophes can dramatically alter the meaning of a legal phrase, with the recent $10m proving that syntax can pose issues of its own in a legal setting, even without the added complication of translation.
The Role of Translators
Taking into account all of the challenges above, you’d be forgiven for believing legal translation is an impossible feat. But the expert legal translators at Bubbles are always ready to take on even the most complicated legal translation projects.
Legal translation is one area where you need to make sure you’re working with the right resources and expertise. With great translators on your side, you can feel confident that your legal intentions are understood in your new target country.