‘Legal’ Translation Not Requiring Sworn Translator

As indicated in a previous article entitled How is legal translation different from non-legal?, not every ‘legally’ translated document need to be signed and stamped by a sworn translator.

Translation of laws, legislations, decrees, treaties, speeches and similar documents is a good example of this type of ‘legal’ translation.

However, a note to keep in mind is that any document may require legal translation by a legal translator if it is to be used for judicial or official purposes that need the services of a legal translator.

Although the translation of such documents does not require an official signature and stamp by a sworn translator it need to precisely reflect the significances and delicacies of the source file.

Handling such type of legal documents during the translation process entails paying close attention to the significance and intentions at the term level.

The translator must be attentive to the exact meanings of words to be reflected in the target language.

The semantic equivalent is the key to search for, but without adding to or diminishing the source exact meaning.

The legal translation of a law, decree or circular by an official entity is intended to address the public in a language they understand.

Although the public is the target of such official documents they contain some technicality that require a specialist to understand.

When translating these, the translator must mirror the same level of technicality and use terms that reflect the same exact meaning of the source term.

Despite the fact that some may object this idea and argue that the purpose of writing or translating a document is to make the target audience understand it, I don’t personally advocate this idea because if it’s adopted this way it will be at the expense of the intention of the author.

In legal contexts, every word matters and has significances that must be paid sufficient attention to; interpretation and construction in legal contexts is a matter of fact and playing on words is taken to be an art, if not a talent!

Most of us should have heard about incidents where some party lost their position in favor of their opponent in multi-lingual contexts due to misinterpretation of words.

Another example of documents that require ‘legal’ translation but without necessarily being signed and stamped by a legal translator is the translation of HR manuals, policies, processes and procedures of a company.

In our world of globalization, companies tend have employees from different nationalities speaking different languages.

This requires companies to translate their HR manuals to comply with local regulations and ensure that all staff thoroughly understand such policies to be able to fulfil their duties and obligations and get their rights and entitlements accordingly.

As sometimes requested by some clients to make the text look easily understood by ‘all’ employees, trying to simplify the translated policy or manual will be at the risk of changing the purposefulness and intentions of the author of the document, which may in turn lead to misunderstandings or conflicts at the workplace.

In conclusion, practical and actual practices tell us that when handling a document that will be used for official purposes we must be focusing on semantic equivalents with sufficient attention to the use of terms, especially those having indicative significance.