Legal Documents Translation, why is it complex?
Legal documents translation is much more complex than any other type of document translation. That is due to the fact that law differs from one country to another. Law in its nature is closely related to culture and sometimes religions. Being related to two of the most sensitive matters makes the translation a complex mission. It is not only about transferring texts from the original language into the target language. Legal translators must be aware of the social dynamics, cultural sociology, and legal terminology of the country to which language they are translating. Above all that, it is vital to perform legal translation with utter accuracy and unbiasedness.
Can you trust Machine Translation with legal documents?
It is no doubt that machine translation is found handy in many cases. Legal translation is not one. Due to the sensitive nature of legal documents, Machine translation use can do more harm than good. There are many types of legal documents. To list a few; we have contracts, financial documents, immigration papers, court cases, witness’s testimonial and much more. The majority of those documents requires the translator to have a solid knowledge of the law practiced in both countries to which and from which language he/she is translating. This is just us scratching the surface of how complex legal translation could be. Moreover, mostly all Machine Translation restore data in the cloud and rely on crowdsourcing. Which poses a huge threat to privacy. Now that being said, the answer to the question is certainly no, Machine Translation is not to be trusted with legal documents.
Implications of poorly translated legal documents
It is evident that imperfect legal translation has major consequences. A famous story is the Treaty of Waitangi. The treaty was an agreement made between representatives of the British Crown and more than 500 Māori chiefs in 1840. The two parties, of course, spoke different languages. So the treaty was written in English and translated into Maori. It resulted in the confirmation of British sovereignty over New Zealand by Lieutenant Governor William Hobson in May 1840.
Till today, this treaty raises ethical and historical concerns. All the disturbance boils down to the word “sovereignty” being translated in Maori to “Kāwanatanga” which means governorship. On one hand, the British party believed they had gained sovereignty over a new colony. One the other hand Maori chiefs believed they had saved their country from being colonized by the British empire. And that they gained the Queen as an ally who promises to protect their status as chiefs over their own tribes. Furthermore, the discrepancy between the two versions of the treaty left the Maori people traumatized after they realized that the treaty is meant to limit their chieftainship over their lands.
This is in brief how catastrophic the pitfalls in legal translation could be. The only way you can avoid falling short with legal translation is to rely on a professional translation agency. Upon selecting one, you need to verify their resources and further confirm the quality of their legal translation. Rest assured, at Localize Group, we have extended expertise in legal translation. One that allows us to offer legal document translation with optimum accuracy. Contact us today to know more.