Specialist Spotlight: Legal Translation
Auguest 14, 2022
There is nothing simple about translation and this statement is especially true when we are dealing with complex and specialised subject matters such as legal translation. When it comes to documents in the realm of law, perfection is no longer a “nice to have” but a “must”.
Precision is crucial for legal communication. Except being proficient with the languages concerned, translators must possess a solid understanding of the relevant legal systems, specific areas of the law, terminologies and jargons.
In this age of technology, while it is understandable to seek help from machines in order to save money and time, this raises the question of whether these tools are actually capable of producing an accurate translation. Laws are not static, and changes can occur in the blink of an eye. Translation machines which rely on preloaded database are arguably incapable of keeping up with new changes, unless we manually feed them updated information on a regular basis. Human translators, in the contrary, are lifelong learners who are always abreast of new developments in their areas of expertise, and thus able to respond to changes.
As we’ve all heard, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”. And that rings true for the free online machine translation engines as well. Security issues with online translation remains unsolved; a noteworthy example is how an employee of the Norwegian oil giant Statoil found that the company’s confidential documents translated using online translation engines were openly accessible to anyone who conducted a Google search. In legal procedures, potential data leak may pose serious threats to the parties involved. Can you imagine how badly the judicial process can be impeded when a witness statement in a pending case is leaked? Human translators, on the other hand, are well aware of the concept and importance of confidentiality when dealing with sensitive texts and are able to take all necessary precautions to safeguard security.
Furthermore, if the translation is to be used in legal proceedings, it may need to be legalised or certified. In this case, you cannot translate the document yourself or use online translation tools; instead, you must hire a professional to do it for you, certifying that the translation is true and accurate, and translated by a professional under a certified translation company, whose credentials have been authenticated by a professional certification body or translation authority.