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terms every legal translatro need to know

12 Terms Every Legal Translator Knows 

In today’s interconnected world, the need to translate legal terms in contracts, tenders, and court proceedings precisely is crucial. Legal translators facilitate relationships, agreements, and transactions between parties who speak different languages. But what are some terms every legal translator knows?

Accuracy & Precision in Legal Translation

Legal translation goes beyond mere word-for-word translation. One must pay close attention to legal terminologies and nuances if the translated document is to retain its clarity for all parties and its original intent.

Knowing the key terms, specialized vocabulary, and intricate nuances in legal terminology plays a key role in ensuring the validity and accuracy of the translated document.

The weight of precise legal translation lies in ensuring justice for all. Legal landscapes vary from one jurisdiction to another. Any errors in translation can result in a different meaning altogether in another legal system, cultural concept, or business practice. This can cause misunderstandings that can lead to serious legal repercussions.

Moreover, misinterpretations can taint your clients’ business image. You must ensure that you translate legal terms accurately to help your clients uphold their credibility as they expand globally.

12 Terms Crucial for Law Translation

Here is a comprehensive guide addressing the common legal key terms and nuances you encounter in legal jargon translation. 

  1. Actus reus – Latin for a guilty act. It is the act or conduct that constitutes a crime.
  2. Subpoena – A written legal order compelling an individual to attend court or other proceedings to give testimony.
  3. Tort – A wrongful act other than a breach of contract that causes another party harm, injury, or loss.
  4. Jurisprudence – This term is derived from the Latin word juris prudential. It simply translates to the science, knowledge, or philosophy of law.
  5. Amicus curiae means a friend of the court. This is a person or group that has an interest in the case but is not a party to it. The court permits the person or group to offer additional information or a brief that might influence the outcome.
  6. Grand jury – A jury composed of citizens who are selected to assist in determining the outcome of a case. The grand jury investigates the cases to determine whether the grounds warrant making formal charges. 
  7. Common law refers to unwritten laws based on court interpretations of previous cases. It helps in the decision-making process in cases where the same definitions can be applied.
  8. Accessory – A person who didn’t participate in a crime but knowingly assisted, aided, encouraged, or contributed to the commission of the crime.
  9. Plaintiff – This is a person or group that brings a legal complaint in a court against another individual or group.
  10. Litigation – This refers to the legal process of settling disputes in a court of law.
  11. Injunction – This is an order issued by the court to one party or more to refrain from doing or to start doing an act or acts specified in the order. An injunction is issued in cases where further doing or failure to do the specified act or acts can cause irreparable harm to the other party or parties.
  12. Indemnify – This is to compensate for damage, loss, or liability.

terms for law translation

Cultural Context & Language Idioms

Cultural contexts and linguistic nuances shape the legal systems in different jurisdictions, reflecting their way of life, values, and beliefs. As a translator, you need to consider the varying differences in language structure, phrases, and idioms in different legal landscapes.

For instance, a common phrase that is acceptable in one culture could be inappropriate in another culture. You must understand the cultural sensitivity around different topics to be able to translate legal terms in a way that sits well in the target language.

Similarly, legal terms commonly used can mean different things in different jurisdictions. You can also find legal concepts that are recognized in one jurisdiction and not recognized in another. Good examples include matrimonial property regimes that are not recognized in the UK, though common in other jurisdictions.

Also, privilege in the US and UK is a legal concept that allows parties to resist inspection of confidential and sensitive documents. This concept isn’t recognized in other countries, such as Germany and France.

In addition, you need to pay attention to words that have a different legal meaning from their common meaning. For instance, a motion can be translated into movement, but in legal terms, it translates to a written request to the court made by a party for a desired judgment for issues that arise during a trial.

3 Common Challenges in Law Translation 

Legal translation poses unique hurdles due to the complexity and intricateness of the process. Below, we highlight some of the common challenges that you are likely to encounter in legal translation, as well as some useful strategies to overcome these challenges.

1. Complex Legal Terms

Legal matters involve using specific vocabulary. The legal terms used can be difficult to translate to a person with only language proficiency.  One must seek to become a subject matter expert to sail through legal translations.

Taking short courses in law goes a long way in helping translators understand the legal terms. Moreover, thorough research in legal terminologies, cultural nuances, and language variations helps comprehend different legal spheres.

Moreover, other translators rely on online legal glossaries and dictionaries to understand the meaning of legal terms. Look for those prepared by legal experts to ensure validity and credibility in your translations.

2. Intricate Grammatical Structures

The use of specific vocabulary calls for specific sentence structure to maintain the meaning of the terms and phrases. Any slight change in sentence structure or punctuation can completely alter the meaning, leading to legal repercussions.

Quality assurance checks are key in overcoming this challenge. If you aren’t sure, have a more qualified translator go through the document before submitting the final copy.

3. Strict Timelines

Legal documents are bound by strict time constraints. Legal documents that are used for court proceedings or corporate meetings must be ready in the specified time of these proceedings. Even a slight delay can influence an outcome that isn’t desirable.

Professional legal translation companies invest in translation tools and technology to improve productivity. These tools help manage tasks and ensure that deadlines are met. Features such as quality checks and translation memory help streamline processes for precise and timely results.

Wrapping Up

Internalizing legal terms doesn’t come easy for translators. Translators must put in the work to become proficient in legal translation from conducting thorough research, taking courses and utilizing translation tools and software.

Borrowing the knowledge of expert legal translators is great for ensuring quality assurance checks. Expert linguists, including those at USTC, have subject matter expertise to ensure legally accurate and culturally sensitive legal translations. Contact us today for a free quote and see precisely what premium legal translation looks like. 

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