Translation Memory Tools in Legal Translation: Dissertation Survey [Request for Help]
Thread poster: A S Leffler (X)

A S Leffler (X)
Sweden
Local time: 05:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jun 22, 2010

My name is Abigail S. Leffler and I am currently completing an MA in Legal Translation with City University in London. The last module of the programme consists of a 10,000-word dissertation on a topic related to legal translation and I was wondering if you could spare a few minutes of your time to help me collect vital data for my dissertation, which deals with the application of translation memory in the field of legal translation. The questionnaire consists of 10 questions and can be accessed through the link below:

For Translators:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KT73DD2

For Translation Services Providers:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/53XKL9N


Having learnt that legal text can be divided into sub-domains, and that each domain has its own idiosynchrasies in terms of terminology, syntax, style and layout, I have come to the conclusion that translation memory may not always be fit for a portion of what we normally know as legal text.

By means of this questionnaire, I would like to collate the perspectives of translation service providers and translators alike, which will be incorporated in the first part of the dissertation. The surveys are anonymous and you do not need to answer all questions (although it would be nice if you do).

Kindly note that this survey applies to legal translation or legal translation in combination with other subjects. You can ignore this if you do not deal with legal translation at all.

I would be extremely grateful if you can help me.
With best wishes


Abigail Schteinman Leffler, MCIL

abigail.schteinman.1@city.ac.uk
schteinman_abigail@hotmail.com


 

Aude Sylvain  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:56
English to French
+ ...
Done! Jun 23, 2010

Good luck Abigail

 

Johanna Liljenzin  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 05:56
Member (2009)
English to Swedish
+ ...
TM tools are very relevant to legal translations Jun 23, 2010

Dear Abigail,

I have completed your survey, but would also like to add a few words here to explain why I find TM and terminology management tools particularly helpful for those of us who often work with legal translations.

- Terminology and defined terms: Contracts (and legislation) often use defined terms, and these need to be translated consistently throughout the text(s). A good terminology management tool will help you achieve such consistency.

- Consistency of language: Many contracts have the same or very similar wording in more than one place. Also, if you are working with several side contracts, you might find that some identical sentences are repeated in several of the documents. When a lawyer drafts such a document, he/she intends them to be consistent throughout. A good legal translator needs to ensure that the same consistency is replicated in the translation. This is where it is important to use a TM tool - it is very hard to keep the same consistency without it.

- To turn around your translations more quickly (which keeps your client happy, and helps you earn more money): After a while, you will discover that some legal clauses are used over and over again in different documents, for different clients, with little or no variation. A TM tool will help you save quite a lot of time when you come across the same (or similar) clause for the umpteenth time. But using a TM tool is never an excuse for sloppy work - you need to be careful so that you don't accept a partial match and miss something crucial in a sentence! By missing a single word, you can sometimes change the entire meaning of a clause... and that can be crucial in a legal context.

I hope this is helpful to you - good luck with your dissertation!

Kind regards,
Johanna


 

A S Leffler (X)
Sweden
Local time: 05:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Jun 24, 2010

Dear Johanna,

Thank you so much for your comments, which have been duly noted!


Thank you both Johanna and Aude for your participation!


Abigail


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:56
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Done! Jun 24, 2010

Good luck!

 

Mette Melchior  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 05:56
English to Danish
+ ...
TM tools can always be helpful Jun 24, 2010

I agree with the points maken by Johanna. In my opinion, TM tools are always useful because they provide a bilingual collection of previously translated material which easily can be searched in relation to future assignments.

And if you work with attributes and metadata you can add as much information about the assignments as you like which makes it easier to decide whether a translation can be reused in a given context. I find this particularly useful in relation to legal translation where I usually add information about the domain as well as text type.

I can see from your profile that you live in Sweden. If you can read and understand Swedish you might also be able to understand some Danish and in that case you might find this dissertation interesting since it also deals with the use of TM tools in legal translation.

Good luck with your work!

If you make your dissertation available online at some point, please also announce it here. It would be interesting to see your results.

[Edited at 2010-06-24 09:53 GMT]


 

A S Leffler (X)
Sweden
Local time: 05:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you again for your input! Jun 26, 2010

Dear Tomás and Mette,

Thank you so much for your input!

Mette I was not aware of the Danish dissertation on TM in legal translation so I thank you so much for providing the link, it is great. Hope you had a nice midsommarafton yesterday.

Kindly

Abigail


 

A S Leffler (X)
Sweden
Local time: 05:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Addendum Jun 26, 2010

By the way Mette, universities in the UK tend to publish dissertations that reach a certain mark so if I do well the end version may be available online some time next year.

[Edited at 2010-06-26 12:14 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-06-26 12:14 GMT]


 

melindak
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:56
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Done! Jun 30, 2010

I hope it wasn't too lateicon_smile.gif

Good luck Abigail


 

nmfurla (X)
Local time: 05:56
Italian to English
Terminology is but a mere fraction of the equation Jul 1, 2010

Johanna Liljenzin wrote:

Dear Abigail,

I have completed your survey, but would also like to add a few words here to explain why I find TM and terminology management tools particularly helpful for those of us who often work with legal translations.

- Terminology and defined terms: Contracts (and legislation) often use defined terms, and these need to be translated consistently throughout the text(s). A good terminology management tool will help you achieve such consistency.

- Consistency of language: Many contracts have the same or very similar wording in more than one place. Also, if you are working with several side contracts, you might find that some identical sentences are repeated in several of the documents. When a lawyer drafts such a document, he/she intends them to be consistent throughout. A good legal translator needs to ensure that the same consistency is replicated in the translation. This is where it is important to use a TM tool - it is very hard to keep the same consistency without it.

- To turn around your translations more quickly (which keeps your client happy, and helps you earn more money): After a while, you will discover that some legal clauses are used over and over again in different documents, for different clients, with little or no variation. A TM tool will help you save quite a lot of time when you come across the same (or similar) clause for the umpteenth time. But using a TM tool is never an excuse for sloppy work - you need to be careful so that you don't accept a partial match and miss something crucial in a sentence! By missing a single word, you can sometimes change the entire meaning of a clause... and that can be crucial in a legal context.

I hope this is helpful to you - good luck with your dissertation!

Kind regards,
Johanna



Johanna,

You are not entirely correct when you say that many legal clauses are used over and over again with little or no variation. Most clauses in contracts are drafted to suit the nature of the transaction, the client's specific business and needs, industry practices, applicable legislative provisions, etc. It is par for course that before the contract is finalised, it has been amended at least 4 times!
Where a translator has extensive experience in certain types of contract, or is knowledgeable in the law of contract consistency throughout the document can be achieved with relative ease despite a lack of TM. Being skilled in word processing software can just as easily achieve consistency.
In my experience, key to accurate translations are "knowledge" and "experience" and not necessarily expensive TM tools that save time. I can recall a number of instances in the past two years where poorly translated documents certified by qualified translators gave us much perplexion at work.
A good translation of a legal document is not simply a matter of terminology, and even though a translator may be skilled in linguistics and TM tools, what may be crucial to delivering a truly accurate translation is technical skill in the particular subject.


 

Johanna Liljenzin  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 05:56
Member (2009)
English to Swedish
+ ...
I still maintain that a CAT tool is very helpful in legal translations Jul 7, 2010

Dear Mfurla,

Thank you very much for your response to my forum post. I am very pleased that you took the time to read my post and provide some comments, and I am sure Abigail will also be pleased to see some differing views on the topic.

Just a few words in response:

Mfurla wrote:
You are not entirely correct when you say that many legal clauses are used over and over again with little or no variation. Most clauses in contracts are drafted to suit the nature of the transaction, the client's specific business and needs, industry practices, applicable legislative provisions, etc. It is par for course that before the contract is finalised, it has been amended at least 4 times!


Perhaps we have not been working in the same law firms. In the reality I have experienced, most clauses are not drafted from scratch every time but are usually taken from standardised contracts kept by each firm. While it is true that many clauses are extensively amended, there are usually clauses that appear again and again with very little amendment. For example, arbitration clauses and choice of law clauses are generally adapted very little from the standardised wordings used by a specific firm. And careful use of a CAT tool does not mean automatically accepting all near matches - each clause should still be given a proper review. Like I said in my last post, there is no excuse for sloppy work.

Mfurla wrote:
"Where a translator has extensive experience in certain types of contract, or is knowledgeable in the law of contract consistency throughout the document can be achieved with relative ease despite a lack of TM. Being skilled in word processing software can just as easily achieve consistency.
In my experience, key to accurate translations are "knowledge" and "experience" and not necessarily expensive TM tools that save time. I can recall a number of instances in the past two years where poorly translated documents certified by qualified translators gave us much perplexion at work.
A good translation of a legal document is not simply a matter of terminology, and even though a translator may be skilled in linguistics and TM tools, what may be crucial to delivering a truly accurate translation is technical skill in the particular subject.


On the point of knowledge and experience, I agree with you entirely - a CAT tool does not take away the requirement to know and understand the subject matter of your translation. It baffles me how often I come across documents translated by translators who clearly have no understanding of the law.

However, while a word processing tool provides a good complement to a CAT tool, I do not believe it will be as useful in checking consistency when you produce the first draft of the translation. In my experience, good word processing skills come in very handy at later stages of a translation, e.g. proofreading/revising/ensuring that you have kept formatting and numbering perfect.

To conclude, I would also like to add that CAT tools need not be expensive - some very good tools are available for free.

Kind regards,
Johanna

[Edited at 2010-07-07 03:38 GMT]


 

A S Leffler (X)
Sweden
Local time: 05:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you very much for your input! Jul 7, 2010

Just a short note to say thank you for your input! Your opinions are much appreciated.

Abigail


 


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Translation Memory Tools in Legal Translation: Dissertation Survey [Request for Help]

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