Every type of specialised translation requires excellent knowledge of terminology and phraseology, and in the case of such a responsible task as document translation, its reliability is even more important. In order to appropriately prepare for such work, it is not enough to learn the relevant vocabulary, but it is also necessary to find out what is the difference between judicial and legal translations. Subsequently, it would be advisable to get acquainted with parallel texts in the source and target languages in order to better understand their characteristics.

What is the difference between judicial and legal translations?

Having made a decision to become a translator of legal documents, it is essential to first answer the question of what type of translation one would like to do. At first glance, judicial and legal translation may seem synonymous, but nothing could be further from the truth. Although both require the translator to have not only linguistic expertise but also knowledge of the legal systems in both countries, in the case of the former, attention should be paid both to the linguistic layer of the text as well as its structure which, in the case of certain legal texts, may turn out to be particularly significant. Examples of judicial translation include sentences, lawsuits and birth or marriage certificates; in other words, these are documents which are parts of judicial proceedings. Moreover, if certain documents are to be accepted by public authorities, they may require a sworn translation. Legal translation, on the other hand, refers to documents such as lawful agreements, law manuals or articles on legal themes. And even though such translation is usually not of prime importance, it still requires rather extensive knowledge.

How to prepare for the translation of legal documents?

Familiarisation with the terminology seems to be the first and obvious step towards becoming prepared for legal translation. In order to acquire adequate knowledge, some people try to learn by heart vocabulary from books for law students, some take special courses in legal translation, and some even start studying law at university in order to get to know the system and vocabulary of the field as profoundly as possible. This is undoubtedly indispensable knowledge, however what matters most in such a translation is context, and this is exactly what a word’s or phrase’s interpretation, depends on. In this case, a dictionary translation may not be sufficient. On the other hand, upon commencing their studies, the translator may realise that learning how the legal system works in this form is simply beyond him or her.

What to start with then?

To familiarise oneself with the expressions currently in use, parallel documents will come in handy. Working with an authentic text will allow you to get to know stylistics and legal terminology and, in
a way, will force you to search for answers on your own which will indirectly contribute to extending your knowledge in this area. When it is necessary to find an equivalent in the target language, it is advisable to first take a look at the definitions in both languages and only then match the relevant translation. This is necessary because, as mentioned, above, interpretation often depends on the context, so it is crucial to find an equivalent. However, not a dictionary one, but one that conveys the actual information intended by the author. This is even more important given the differences in legal systems of different countries.

Translating legal documents requires specialised knowledge, which can be gained in a number of ways. However, it is crucial to choose a method that makes the translation as accurate and correct as possible. In this type of translation no half measures can be settled for, so every effort should be made to ensure that the final text is, in terms of meaning, as close to the original as possible.


Pomożemy w tłumaczeniu.Zadzwoń