Legal translation is a complex type of translation that covers a wide range of documents, including contracts, agreements, memorandums, court minutes,s and so on. In legal translation, there is no room for error. Mistakes, ambiguity or misinterpretation are not allowed, no matter how small, because they can have very serious legal and financial consequences. Legal translators usually face serious challenges when working on legal documents. These challenges may arise for many reasons, such as differences in legal systems and legal terminologies that vary worldwide.

Challenges of legal translation:

1. Legal Terminology

Legal translations are considered more complex than other types of translations. The legal terminology is what makes it difficult because each country has its own legal terminology. As legal terminologies between the source and target languages vary widely, legal translators are required to understand the exact meanings of legal terminology in both languages in order to provide accurate and consistent translations.

Moreover, legal translator must be able to research the legal concept of a term in the source language when the equivalent term in the target language is not obvious.

2. Differences in Legal Systems

Legal systems vary across the world and each society has a unique legal system. The differences of the two legal systems the legal translation refers to constitute the core of the challenges in translating a legal document. The original text is formed following the rules established in the country of origin, using the appropriate language. The text in the translated document must reflect the contents of the original and all of its legal particularities. In the same time it should be constructed observing the rules of the legal system of the country where the translation is going to be used and using the terms that are appropriate there. So, legal translators need to have in-depth knowledge of the legal systems in both the source and target language.

3. Differences in Culture

The legal language of a text or document is influenced greatly by the country’s culture, which also influences the structure of the legal system. This means that an understanding of both the culture of the source and target languages and the legal systems of both is necessary to provide accurate translation. A professional translator must be knowledgeable of the culture of the target language.

4. Legal Style

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5. Translating Tone of Voice

Legal English is usually written in a passive voice with a highly formal tone. Other languages use the active voice much more regularly. It requires a high degree of proficiency to translate the tone of voice and register of an English legal document into a foreign language with an active voice.

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There are many challenges of legal translation as we illustrated. Legal translations can be difficult to undertake but translators play a vital role in all societies. It takes years to develop complete knowledge and understanding of legal documents and to have the skill to translate them accurately and consistently between languages.

What is the major challenge facing you as legal translator?