Understanding the Many Traps of Document Translation

Not many people understand that dealing with document translation and legal documentation is not quite easy. Even native speakers sometimes struggle to grasp the exact meaning of a text. Things get ten times harder when trying to convey that meaning and at the same time keep up the same tone and use a very accurate terminology.

This post aims to help you understand that there are many traps when it comes to document translation and show you what challenges professional translators have to face.

This way, you will be better prepared when needing such services so that you will know exactly what to expect.

Specific terminology plays an important role in document translation

A good translator has to be an expert in grammar and syntax, along with language accuracy. They also require perfect command of the legal terminology. Of course, this is hard to achieve unless they’ve been translating text documents for several years or have had the chance to work in the legal field.

Terminology is the first document translation trap most translators have to face. What most of them do to avoid this is creating their own databases. Taking note of each specialized term they encounter it’s how they managed to translate difficult texts.

Language rigidity can pose quite the challenge

Among the common challenges translators face when working with documents, language rigidity is one of the worst. This is the reason why it might sometimes take them longer to finish the translation, since they have to read the same phrase over and over again before understanding exactly what it means.

The complexity of legal documentation is partly due to the syntactical structure which is often confusing even to native speakers. This is why translators have to be very careful when dealing with an endless phrase. They often try to split it into smaller pieces in order to better understand it.

Translators also have to adapt the meaning of the text according to the grammar rules of the target language. Otherwise, the translation could turn out to be a disaster because each language has a different pattern.

Attention to details is a must

This is one of the compulsory skills of a professional translator, and legal documentation is the field where they will need it most. They need to be able to translate the text correctly and accurately and also make sure they pay attention to all the details.

Document translation

Special attention is also required when copying the names, dates or addresses from the original document into the translated version. Just one wrong letter or number can create serious problems for clients because authorities will only take the translated version into account.

The impact of errors

Unlike other types of translations, handling a legal document means a certified translator really can’t afford to make any errors because the outcome could be devastating for both them and their client. In the case of legal document translation, the consequences can even lead to legal issues.

Imagine that a single wrong term that has been constantly mentioned throughout the translated document can ruin its overall meaning, resulting in problems in a court case or making clients lose a deal if the translated document is a contract in which a legal term has been misused.

The difference in systems can make everything more tricky

This is one of the unavoidable traps related to document translation and it is really not the translators’ ”fault”, but they will certainly be the ones held accountable if they can’t cope with the lack of certain terms and concepts which are simply not provided by the judiciary system of a state.

Translators can either explain in detail what those particular terms or concepts mean in the target language, or they can choose to add notes at the end of the document and give a literary translation.

We would personally go for the first option because people don’t usually pay attention to footnotes. Anyway, the important thing is explaining exactly what the term refers to, even if there are no correspondents for it.
document translation

Maintaining the tone can be difficult

This is another common trap that translators must understand and avoid when dealing with a legal document. Let’s take the English language for example. Every time you read a legal document, you can’t ignore its somber tone.

In fact, this is something which, along with the intricate syntax, makes you feel that the text was written a century ago. It is even hard to write something maintaining the same formality in tone. Imagine how hard it is to convey it into a different language.

But this is one of the challenges a translator simply must deal with. In order to imitate this tone, translators have to read as much legal documentation as they can to make the translation sound better and more loyal to the original text.

The confidentiality aspect cannot be overlooked

It goes without saying that you won’t have to worry about confidentiality when working with professional translation agencies. It is obvious that they are not allowed to disclose any sensitive data to third parties.

But along with this common sense rule, translators also have to take into account the security aspect. Nowadays, sending and receiving sensitive information via email is not as safe as it used to be, so in order to improve security, translation agencies have started encrypting their files.

Big companies are particularly interested in this aspect when hiring a translation agency.

Setting the right deadline is not that easy

This is another issue when dealing with document translation mainly because it is very urgent and clients often have a tight deadline themselves, so they put a lot of pressure on translators to finish the project in due time.

In our opinion, translators need to think carefully when accepting any legal document. If they are not able to provide the translation in the necessary time frame, then it’s better to pass on the offer. Legal translation cannot be rushed. Otherwise, stress will only increase the chances of making mistakes.

Are you looking for a translator who can handle all these challenges?

Then the best option is to go with an expert who has the necessary experience and knowledge to guarantee you will get a reliable document translation.

At Slavis, we have the right team of translators who are also specialized in legal translations. Don’t hesitate to contact us as soon as possible and we will immediately provide you with a free quote.

Autor: Michal Wiewior

CEO in Slavis Technical Translations, Sworny - Certified Translations