Posted by: sbilingual | June 4, 2012

Target Language in Legal Translation

Legal translation requires tact, logical reasoning, solid understanding of legal terminology, and keenness of colloquialisms to supply a proper translation in a target language.  When translating a document from a language into the target language, the translator should always be a native speaker of the target language, with experience in legal translation.  It is best if the translator is a lawyer or paralegal, as they will have years of experience with legal terms used in the documents.

Providing a good legal translation is never about a literal word-for-word translation, too many concepts do not transfer exactly across national boundaries.   Legal translation must take into account differing legal systems, laws, and cultural context.  At 7Brands, we have native language speakers on staff who will be able to apply these points into consideration to ensure that your document communicates the same message in one language as it does in another.

Tact and Logical Reasoning

Translating legal documents from one language into another requires careful use of language.  Phrases, expressions, and words may be everyday talk in one language, but may be insulting or embarassing in another.  A good translation will choose diction that is both accurate and appropriate, without compromising the meaning.  Sometimes source documents have errors that are not readily apparent.  In those cases, a translator must use logical reasoning to determine what the actual intent is in the original (source) document.  A poor choice of words can infer unintentional meanings.  This is unacceptable in a legal translation when the ramifications can be residual and cost great sums of money.

Legal Terminology

Legal terminology differs from country to country, which is why it is so important for legal translation to be correct for the target language.  For example, in the United States, all criminal cases have the option for a jury trial.  In many other countries this is not the case, and instead evidence is presented in a series of closed hearings before a judgment is rendered.  In those situations, translating the word “trial” can cause confusion since in the other country there will be no “trial.”  Any legal translation must show a complete understanding of the legal system for which it is intended.  Otherwise, the document may not be understandable to the court reading it.

Colloquialisms and Accepted Usage

Regions differ in generally accepted word usage, and vernacular that is understood in one area may not be in valid in another.  In the United States, if you are in the northeast you stand on-line, everywhere else you stand in line.  A can of coca-cola can be referred as soda, pop or soda-pop depending on your location.  These small differences can create challenges for a translator.  A quality legal translation needs to be able to be understood regardless of region or origin.

To find out how Bilingual Resources Group can support your interpretation, translation and bilingual staffing needs, please call 504-253-0364 or visit


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: