Case Studies

Legal translation often entails a very different approach than the translation of non-specialized texts. I ask my clients why they need their documents translated so that I can prepare my translations to be presented to the relevant audience. Read some of the case studies below to learn about the value added when you select a translator who specializes exclusively in legal translation.

Case Study 1

Translators may be tempted to assume that a word that sounds the same in English as it does in a foreign language has the same definition or connotation in both languages. However, this is not always the case. In Spanish, a notario is usually an attorney while in American English, a notary public is not necessarily an attorney. A translator who does not take into consideration the legal context of language might erroneously translate notary public as notario, which may cause a notary public to inaccurately represent themselves as a legal advisor. Alternatively, a translator might erroneously translate notario as notary public, failing to accurately convey a notario's foreign education in law. A competent legal translator would leave either term in its original language (in italics throughout the document), opting to add a short explanatory note in brackets after the term's first appearance in a document.

Case Study 2

Oftentimes, it is considered appropriate for translators to omit foreign honorifics that do not have an American English equivalent (such as licenciado in Spanish or ragioniere in Italian). However, honorifics serve as important evidence of an individual's actual or perceived professional qualifications. It may be okay to omit honorifics in a translation of a friendly letter, but it may be a serious error to omit honorifics in a translation used as evidence in court to prove that an individual lied about their professional qualifications.

Case Study 3

Translators may be tempted to ignore typos in an original document and "correct" those typos in their translations. This may be an acceptable practice when translating a newspaper article for a client who is not also the article's author, but it may be a serious error to omit any mention of typos in a translation of a document which appears to be a police-issued "certificate of good conduct" but may actually be a forgery.

Do your translation justice.

I will personally review your Spanish- or Italian-language documents so that we can discuss language solutions.