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Legal language
Thread poster: Julian Wood

Julian Wood  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:14
Czech to English
+ ...
Mar 28, 2007

Hello
I am doing a test translation Cz>Eng, it is a legal text, and I have not done much translation of such texts- I wonder if anyone could point me in the right direction for resources or English corpora of legal language so I can check my target text sounds reasonable?
Thanks a lot


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Tatiana Neamţu
Romania
Local time: 18:14
English to Romanian
+ ...
Try this ... Mar 28, 2007

Hello Julian,

I sometimes use this: http://www.duhaime.org/dictionary/diction.aspx

Hope it helps!

Good luck!


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:14
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Translating legalese Mar 28, 2007

Someone asking this question shouldn't translate legal texts. I can very well translate legalese into Dutch and it will sound right to my ears, but the result of my translations might not be be legal in the legal sense: they might not hold up in court. Leave the translation of legal texts to the specialists.

Kind regards,
Gerard


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:14
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Black's Law Dictionary Mar 28, 2007

In English, Black's Law Dictionary, Second Pocket Edition, Editor Bryan A. Garner, published by West Group, St. Paul., Minn., 2001

is what I use.

Astrid


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
I agree with Gerard Mar 29, 2007

Someone asking this question shouldn't translate legal texts. It's best to stick with what you know well.

In time you'll learn more, but don't try to jump in over your head; you'll suffer and so will our profession.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 16:14
Dutch to English
+ ...
Have to agree ... Mar 29, 2007

Gerard de Noord wrote:

Someone asking this question shouldn't translate legal texts. I can very well translate legalese into Dutch and it will sound right to my ears, but the result of my translations might not be be legal in the legal sense: they might not hold up in court. Leave the translation of legal texts to the specialists.

Kind regards,
Gerard



Thanks for raising this Gerard.

Just as I wouldn't touch a translation dealing with the specifications for a nuclear power plant or the operating procedure to perform an appendectomy with a barge pole, and just as I'd run a mile from a fancy menu (because I can hardly boil an egg, so I'd have no idea what I'd be on about!), the translation of (most) legal texts should be left to lawyer-linguists and/or (genuine) legal translators.

There are too many self-professed legal translators around. For some reason a lot of people think it's a bandwagon they can jump onto to make a quick buck, it's not. It can be a minefield.

@ Julian - my comments above are general but in your case, if it's a field that interests you, look at the new MA in Legal Translation that's being offered by City University (London) from this September. German is one of the source languages they offer. They also have a couple of short courses coming up on 20/21 April and 1/2 June, which is a cheaper way of finding out if it's something you'd like to get into. The courses are very well-structured and I think you'll find them a great help.

I'm not suggesting you need to be a lawyer either, I know a few legal translators who are really excellent and don't have law degrees, however they've trained up to the level needed to tackle legal translations. I also unfortunately know of more who fancy themselves as legal translators but can't get through articles of association without breaking into a cold sweat (and making a mess of it in the progress).

It is best to stick to what you know well, but there is always room in the profession for more legal translators who take the time and effort to train properly.

Best of luck


[Edited at 2007-03-29 10:10]


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Jo Rourke  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
Interesting.... Mar 29, 2007

This forum has been really interesting for me, as legal translation is something I am considering getting into. I have translated a few legal documents, due to the fact that I studied a few law modules at university, but I haven't strayed outside the zones of those specific modules. I am hoping to start the MA in Legal Translation at City University this autumn, but I hadn't heard of the short courses you mentioned (Lawyer-Linguist) in April and June. What form do they take and how do I sign up for them?)

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 16:14
Dutch to English
+ ...
Info on short courses Mar 29, 2007

Jo McAuley wrote:

This forum has been really interesting for me, as legal translation is something I am considering getting into. I have translated a few legal documents, due to the fact that I studied a few law modules at university, but I haven't strayed outside the zones of those specific modules. I am hoping to start the MA in Legal Translation at City University this autumn, but I hadn't heard of the short courses you mentioned (Lawyer-Linguist) in April and June. What form do they take and how do I sign up for them?)


Hi Jo,

Here's the info:


Legal Terminology for Translators: The Law of Contract
A course for practising translators interested in commercial law



Lecturer: Clare Canton LL.M (Cantab) MA (London)

Law of Contract I - Friday 20 April 2007
Introduction - formation of a contract - contents of a contract - terms and representations - exclusion clauses - examination of specific clauses in a contract for the sale of goods

Law of Contract II - Saturday 21 April 2007
Discharge of the contract and its consequences - remedies and damages - action for price - injunctions - specific performance - consideration of various forms of agreement, letters and assignments



The morning and early afternoon sessions (10.00 - 1.00pm and 2.00 - 3.30pm) will consist of lectures on the law, while the afternoon workshops (4.00 - 6.00pm) will focus on the language used in specific contexts. Workshops will be held in French, German, Italian, Spanish and other languages if the demand is high enough to make the course viable.



Cost: GBP 236 (concessions GBP 152, subject to availability)



For more information and an application form, please visit: http://www.city.ac.uk/languages/courses/contract_law.html





Legal Terminology for Translators: Commercial & Corporate Law
A course for practising translators interested in commercial and corporate law



1 and 2 June 2007 10:00am - 6:00pm



Lecturer: Clare Canton LL.M (Cantab) MA (London)

Friday 1 June 2007 Commercial Law
Introduction - contracts for the sale of goods - the Sale of Goods Act 1979, as amended by the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 - definitions - the passing of property and risk - transfer of title by a non-owner - performance - implied terms - exclusion of a seller's liability - remedies of the buyer and seller - hire purchase agreements

Saturday 2 June 2007 Corporate Law
Different methods of trading - public and private limited companies - memoranda and articles of association - application for shares - borrowing, debentures and charges - meetings and resolutions - sale of a company



The morning and early afternoon sessions (10.00-1.00pm and 2.00-3.30pm) will consist of lectures on the law, while the afternoon workshops (4.00-6.00pm) will focus on the language used in specific contexts. Workshops will be held in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and other languages, on request, if the demand is high enough to make the course viable.



Cost: GBP 236 (concessions GBP 152 - subject to availability)



For more information and an application form, please visit: http://www.city.ac.uk/languages/courses/corporate_law.html


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Julian Wood  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:14
Czech to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks- point taken Mar 29, 2007

Hello
Thanks for the posts, everyone.
It is a good point that one should not even do test translations if it's not a field one knows.
I'm also aware I'm relatively new to translation, and don't want to bite off more than I can chew, in any way.

Thanks for the info on City Uni courses- the whole thread has reminded me that legal work is perhaps interesting or even lucrative, but that means it requires the right people, and has a host of demands which is why it may command a higher fee- but one does not get somehing for nothing.

Good and useful info, though, and I've passed it on- the forum is very good for that.

Hezky den/ have a nice rest of day


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 16:14
Dutch to English
+ ...
Legal Translating Mar 29, 2007

Hi Julian,

I'm biased because I am a lawyer by training and love the law, but if it's an avenue you choose to follow and enjoy, it is rewarding on an intellectual level and yes, you can command good fees.

It's demanding but the best thing about legal translation is that if you create a niche for yourself, deliver quality work and meet deadlines (there is often a lot of urgent work), you should never be short of work.

Although there's lot's of people who "do legal", there is a shortage of specialised legal translators. I know German has a lot of work (ask Astrid - she is always busy) and I'd imagine you'd find a good demand in Czech too.

It's something to think of working towards on the side anyhow. Glad the info was useful.

Best of luck





[Edited at 2007-03-29 13:46]


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Julian Wood  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:14
Czech to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Accuracy Mar 29, 2007

Hello, sorry if this seems a silly question- but does legal translation need to be 100% accurate?
I admit myself that I am not always able to find all the mistakes I make, and so prefer 'general' translation as not every single word counts. This is a reason I would rather leave legal translation alone, at least for now.
I think it's a positive thing to admit I'm not always 100% right and can miss things- better to admit it than imagine I'm 100% reliable.(?)


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 16:14
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not a silly question at all Mar 29, 2007

Julian Wood wrote:

Hello, sorry if this seems a silly question- but does legal translation need to be 100% accurate?
I admit myself that I am not always able to find all the mistakes I make, and so prefer 'general' translation as not every single word counts. This is a reason I would rather leave legal translation alone, at least for now.
I think it's a positive thing to admit I'm not always 100% right and can miss things- better to admit it than imagine I'm 100% reliable.(?)


Accuracy is very important, especially considering you have to:

a) demystify the often unique terminology of the source legal system,
b) produce clear and intelligible English (assuming that's the target language)
WHILST
c) always retaining the integrity of the legal information,
d) capturing nuances and
e) respecting the author's writing style.

There is very little room for error and the stakes are often higher perhaps than in other texts.

The problem with legal (like medical) is that there is no scope for embellishment, whereas in a general/literary text you have some scope to "breathe some life" into the translation, provided you don't stray too far from the original.

I translate a Dutch staff magazine every quarter and do a small number of similar jobs just to keep the "creative juices" flowing as legal 100% of the time can be a problem too.

But even the best legal translators make mistakes, no-one is 100% reliable. Those that say they are, are delusional



[Edited at 2007-03-29 14:13]


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Julian Wood  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:14
Czech to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Translators differ Mar 29, 2007

Thanks for reply, I think translators come in all sizes and sorts, and it is good to realise this.
I am better sticking with what I want to do, as that way I do a better job, and am a happier person- also important.
I have numerous friends who are in-house translators getting paid handsomely but not enjoying their work, I see no point being freelance if one is not doing more of what one chooses to do.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 16:14
Dutch to English
+ ...
Too true Mar 29, 2007

Julian Wood wrote:

Thanks for reply, I think translators come in all sizes and sorts, and it is good to realise this.
I am better sticking with what I want to do, as that way I do a better job, and am a happier person- also important.
I have numerous friends who are in-house translators getting paid handsomely but not enjoying their work, I see no point being freelance if one is not doing more of what one chooses to do.


I'd be as miserable as hell if I had to do tourism all day (for example) whilst many love it.

That is what's nice about being a freelancer, you can turn down texts that would bore you. You're right, there's no point if you don't enjoy it.

Keep well


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xxxwordsworldwi
Italy
Local time: 17:14
English to Italian
+ ...
practice, then you will decide Mar 29, 2007

Julian,

if you are very interested in this field why don't you practice a bit working for law firms, they might pay you a low salary but you learn the ropes, meanwhile a good course and additional studies should be taken into consideration. But I'm sure you can find them in London.

Don't give up if you are so motivated but don't make it up as you go along and don't just improvise.
Sometimes self-confidence is not our "best ally".

Maria Grazia


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