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The Role of Legal Translations in the Digital Era

by Ronnie Avelino

The Internet and globalization have started an increased need for translation services. More companies today have to deal with the global community, which results in the creation of additional digital documents in various languages. Most of these documents are legal in nature. Corporate documents and company websites contain privacy rules, service contracts, terms of use and licenses. All of them use legal phraseology that should be translated in many languages to ensure the complete comprehension of target audiences.

A legal document is complex and intricate and even if it is in one's own language, it can still be incomprehensible and obscure. The role of the legal translator or a legal translation company is to ensure that the source document is accurately rendered in the target language. The translator should make sure that the legal document is comprehensible in the new language.

The complexity and burden of legal translation is huge. The legal translator has to contend with two different languages, two different cultures and two different legal systems.

Consistency in work processes

Globalization means that effective communication is necessary and it is vital that the language barrier is overcome. Legal translations are not confined to legal cases. Many industries and services require legal translation in the same manner that technology touches these same services and industries.

Specific terminology is used in different legal translation projects. Aside from creating a terminology database, digital technology can make the database accessible to clients, authorized users and the translation company to ensure the consistent use of the particular terminology across different platforms.

No replacement for human translators

While computer-aided tools help facilitate the execution of some translation processes, the actual processes of translating a legal document from the source language to the target language can only be done by a human translator.

Legal documents are complex and intricate and their translation requires care and precision. With legalese being what it is, a subject matter expert is needed for legal translation because the legal language is different from standard language. And since most people are comfortable reading information in their own language, the more essential it is for the nuances of the language and the proper legal language suitable to the situation and circumstances are used, which is something that machine translation cannot do.

Working together

Digital technology and legal translation benefit from working together. Digital technology created translation memory tools, online databases and corpora, cloud-based workspaces and machine translation tools. Technology makes their work more time-efficient and effective and the use of these modern technologies helps developers create better and more responsive translation tools.

The work of legal translators is not going to go away but it's going to change for the better, ensuring that they can deliver more consistent work because of digital technology.

About the writer

Ronnie Avelino is the Alliance Manager of Day Translations, Inc. a legal translation company.

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