What’s the difference between regular and legal translation?
Do you happen to have some legal documents that need to be translated? Many people think that hiring a regular translator will do, but it isn’t entirely accurate (and safe). Document translations are not always as simple as standard translations, as the law is very culture-dependent. It uses terms and content that can be very confusing for people who are not familiar with the laws and culture of the source country.
If you wonder whether a regular translation is enough for you or you need to seek a narrowly specialized translator, this article is for you. Below, you will find everything you need to know about regular and legal translations, including information on what makes legal translation different, when certified translation is required, when regular translation is enough, and more. So read on and make sure you choose right!
What is a legal translation?
Legal translation is not as simple as regular translation. It is much more complex and, sometimes, even works differently. But what does it mean to be a legal translator?
A certified legal translator is a professional translator specializing in translating official documents connected to law, such as court orders, contracts, laws, regulations, and other legal documents. While translating these documents to and from different languages, legal translators must meet specific standards.
The main difference between regular and legal translations is the type of content they contain. While regular translations can be made from any written material, legal translations can only be made from certain texts containing specific language used.
Legal documents need to be translated according to certain requirements, just like a legal document needs to be certified by a notary and an apostille in order to be valid in a foreign country.
The purpose is to ensure that the document will not be misunderstood when read in a foreign country where laws and regulations might differ from the source country. A regular translation should still retain the original text’s meaning.
Structure and Formatting
All documents have different structures, but there are some things that all legal documents have in common – they include definitions, statements, and authoritative references. When translating a legal document, a translator must use terminology relevant to the source country’s laws while retaining its meaning in the target country or culture. This makes the translation process rather challenging, especially when laws differ greatly depending on the countries involved.
Legal documents are usually very standard in their format, just like contracts follow certain rules and structures. A regular document will vary depending on its purpose, while a legal document will vary depending on its subject matter or field of law (e.g., bankruptcy, medicine, engineering).
Some documents may also require additional context, such as definitions and words used in the source text that might not exist in the target text. In such cases, a legal translator needs to find out all of the meanings and alternatives for each word used in the source text and provide them in the target text as well.
Legal documents often use legal terms and language that might be unfamiliar to non-legal professionals. Legal translation requires special attention because of this. The only way to ensure the proper translation is to hire a professional legal translator with special knowledge in the field.
When should you use a legal translation?
Most people ask themselves whether a certified legal translator is a necessity. Below, you will find a few situations when you should use a certified legal translator:
- If you have any kind of legal issue. This includes things like divorce, lawsuits, and even traffic tickets. It also includes the rights of your children (if you are a single parent), partnership agreements, contracts, wills, and other documents that touch upon various areas of law.
- If you are applying for citizenship or any other visa.
- If you are dealing with any kind of legal proceeding or court order.
- If you live in the United States and would like to apply for permanent residence or become a U.S. citizen.
- If you want to apply for anything within the government.
- If you are buying or selling property or real estate.
When is a regular translation good enough?
A regular translation is good enough if you are not dealing with any legal matters, such as court cases, applications, lawsuits, and so on. A regular translation is also good enough if you are only translating documents for personal use. For example, if you study abroad and want to have some study materials translated into your native language.
Legal translation is very different from regular translation. It requires a lot of special knowledge and training, not to mention a law degree and experience. It also requires translators to be highly proficient in the source language and the target language. This means that they must have an excellent working knowledge of the source language and the target language, as well as knowledge of the culture of both countries.
Courts or other agencies usually hire legal translators. They translate many different documents, including contracts, court orders, laws, regulations, and even university diplomas. If you need any kind of legal document translated, it’s best to contact an experienced translator whose specialization is translating legal documents and who knows all of the nuances and standards related to such a task.