Aug 2009

Legal terminology translation

Legal terminology translation becomes essential for official reasons, evidential papers and various official documentation. Some people need translation in official language(s) under special jurisdictions.

There are some countries where it’s an obligation for legal translators to swear to god (or any similar oath) for attesting the legal equivalence of the target text with the original or source text.

At times, only translators with a special skill-set receive authorisation for swearing such oaths. And there are some cases when the translation is accepted as legally equivalent only when it’s coupled with the original one or a clearly sworn/certified copy.

Even when a translator is specialised in legal terminology translation, or is practicing law in his/her own country, this won’t suffice for his/her identity to be a resolutely sworn translator. Nonetheless, process or formalities of legal equivalence can differ from country to country.

In the case of South Africa, a legal translator requires authorisation from the High Court. In addition, he or she essentially has to use the original (or else the original’s sworn copy) in his or her physical presence. This translator, however, might only swear on his or her own translation. There are no requirements for any additional witness (like a notary) to resolutely attest to the translation’s authenticity.

If you look to Mexico, in local instances, legal authorities like the Superior Court of Justice, can establish the authorisation of any written or oral examination for passing to any translator who is recognised as an ‘expert’ (a “sworn” translator would also do). For Spanish to English Legal Translation, such translators do not swear without receiving prior authorisation from the court(s).

Let’s now look to the US. These issues are handled by legislative bodies like The U.S. Department of Labor. It has recently declared that there is presently no globally uniform certification needed for interpreters or translators working in the US. But there is actually a range of tests taken by legal terminology translation professionals for showcasing their proficiency.

The Polish practice on these issues can be regarded as unique. However, concerned government departments manage standards for legal terminology translation. In order to work as a legal translation professional in Poland, one has to pass an official exam. Following such skill tests, the qualifying professionals come to be legally recognised as Poland’s ‘sworn’ translators.

This is very similar to the practice in Mexico. Nevertheless, for casual translation jobs (that deal in business communications, regular administration or correspondence) it’s usually sufficient to employ an expert without such legal recognition.

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