We translate legales into legalese

Legalese is the specialized jargon used in legal documents, contracts, and legislation. It's quite complex and often difficult to understand for those not well-versed in legal matters. But, as we always say at Localipsum, we have attorneys turned translators… and translators turned attorneys! Let’s get into our powersuits.

Table of Contents

What is Legalese?

Legalese, the secret code of the legal profession, is a language within a language. It exists to bring precision and clarity to legal documents, ensuring no room for ambiguity. It’s a way of guaranteeing that the terms of an agreement or law are clear as glass.

Legalese Examples

To fully appreciate the challenges and intricacies of legalese, let’s explore a series of examples. These terms, though cryptic, form the backbone of legal texts, adding an element of formality and precision. 

  • “Force Majeure” is a French term frequently used in contracts to denote events beyond human control. It sounds imposing but can be understood as “unforeseeable circumstances”. 
  • “Heretofore” and “Hereinafter” are words often used to refer to events that occurred earlier or those that will happen in the future.
  • When something is declared “Null and Void”, it’s legally invalid or non-existent, or, in simpler terms, completely useless.

The Challenges of Translating Legal Documents

Legal translation isn’t a straightforward task. Translators must not only translate words but also decode the true legal meaning behind them.

For starters, each country and even specific regions have distinct legal systems. Translating legal documents often involves bridging these systems, ensuring that the translated document adheres to the legal standards of the target jurisdiction, including the required formatting, layout and structure. Failure to do so can render the document legally invalid, or null & void. See what we did?

Navigating between false friends is a huge part of legal translation. These are words that appear similar in two languages but carry (very) different meanings. A translator’s ability to spot and avoid these pitfalls is crucial for an accurate piece.

Legal documents may contain ambiguities, combined with a touch of multilingual elements. Translators must unravel these ambiguities while ensuring the document remains legally sound. Handling multiple languages within a document adds another layer of complexity to the challenge. 

Legal Translation goes Wrong

Misinterpretation can lead to dire consequences in the legal sphere. In 2011, a legal translation error hit the tabloids: South Korea’s Trade Ministry presented a version of a Fair Trade Agreement between South Korea and the European Union that contained 207 different translation errors. Fun fact? This was South Korea’s second attempt at presenting this bill. The third’s the charm? It would be if they called Localipsum! Or, maybe woulda been done right the first time around. 

The Dos and Don’ts of Legal Translation

The Do’s:

  • Verify Legal Terminology: Double (and triple!) checking legal terms is a fundamental step. This verification guarantees that the translated document retains its legal integrity without errors or misinterpretations.
  • Understand the Cultural Context: Legal documents often carry cultural elements that are integral to their interpretation. Understanding the context in which the document will be used is imperative for an accurate translation.
  • Meticulous Formatting: Ensuring that the translated document mirrors the original’s structure is vital for its legal validity.

The Don’ts:

  • Rely on Machine Translation: Machine translation, although advancing, can’t grasp the nuances of legal language. Relying solely on automated translation tools for legal documents will mostly end up in a headache. Or a lawsuit.
  • Avoid Literal Translation: Falling into the literal translation trap is a common pitfall. Legal documents often contain idiomatic expressions (like the ones above) that, if translated word-for-word, can lead to serious misinterpretations.
  • Last-Minute Translation: Legal translation should not be an afterthought. Initiating the translation process late in the project can lead to rushed and inaccurate results.

How can We Help?

We didn’t include the foremost “do” in the previous section: hiring professional legal translators to navigate this intricate legal world seamlessly. 

Localipsum can be your trusted partner along the way. Our legal and multilingual expertise, professional integrity and a rigorous quality assurance process make us the go-to choice for top organizations, including the prestigious California Chamber of Commerce and the California Employers Association, along with Governor Jerry Brown and many other dignitaries. Our clients adore us (check out our latest clients testimonials), and we know you will too. 

You can get in touch with our fabulous team here. It’s quite easier than heading unprepared to the courtroom, or even than getting THAT call from your legal department. 

11 thoughts on “We Translate legales Into Legalese | Localipsum”

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