When providing legal translations, accurate translation is absolutely critical. Even slight errors in translating words and phrases can create miscommunications that end up destroying business commitments or invalidating official documents.
Take for example the seemingly simple legal structure of marriage. While these countries may have similar cultural norms around the concept of marriage, the legal parameters are very different whether in the United States, the United Kingdom, or other European countries. Without a full understanding of the laws behind marriage in both the original and translated documents, a simple linguistic interpretation may leave critical gaps or create misunderstandings.
Are there standards legal translators must use?
Standards do exist in multiple world-wide arenas to outline quality expectations and best-practices, yet they remain guidelines and not law. Furthermore, these guidelines primarily focus on linguistic accuracy and leave gaps associated with the translation of legal terms and requirements from one culture to another culture.
For example, in the United States, the American Society for Testing and Materials (“ASTM”) produced “F2575-06 Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation.” This document outlines best practices to select a qualified provider for a given work, as well as recommended translation processes to assure quality results. In the European Union, a similar standard, “BS EN-15038 European Quality Standard,” provides service providers a set of procedures and requirements to best meet client needs and offers advice to clients to understand the process and assist them in selecting an appropriate provider. Both of these standards not only stress competence and experience but also recommend a quality review process conducted by a third-person with an exceptional understanding of language and culture in both the original and target languages.
A significant gap continues to remain as both of these standards focus on the accuracy of literal words and phrases, but do not account for the translation of intended meaning from one culture or one legal system to another. Specifically, F2575-06 states, “Proofreading focuses on checking for typographical errors, incorrect hyphenation and spelling, and improper formatting.” BS EN-15038 seems to heighten expectations a bit more as it describes the review process as “examining a translation for its suitability for the agreed purpose, and respect for the conventions of the domain to which it belongs and recommending corrective measures.” According to Catherine Way in the International Journal of Communication (October 2016), BS EN-15038 “[does] not envisage vital parameters ruling decision making in legal translation, where adequacy or accuracy are far more than linguistic questions, governed more by the legal context surrounding the text.”
With accurate translation requirements in mind, what can you do?
- Don’t select a service provider based on price alone. Not all providers are alike. Many rely upon software systems or language-certified individuals to complete the work for the lowest production cost possible. While you may save a few dollars on your project, there’s a good chance you’ll experience higher costs, experience reputation loss, or lose business down the road.
- DO CHOOSE a professional provider that focuses on legal translations ideally in the area of law for the documents you possess. These providers optimize a wide network of language experts with expertise and experience dealing with legal work in both the original and target languages. Ask the provider what quality assurance processes are in place to ensure your critical documents are accurately and appropriately translated.
When you have important legal documents that require translation, trust in the professional services of The Perfect Translation. Our work comes with certification required for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, university and high school enrollments, and other local, state, and federal government official uses. We provide qualified services with the assistance of legal professionals for documents associated with immigration, business, real estate, financial, academic, legal, and medical. Contact us today to get a free quote and learn more about how we can serve you.