Legal translation and the Potsdam agreement

07/02/2017 | Rachel Hurley

Nowadays, there is a high demand for legal translation. This is due to more and more companies doing business abroad and people moving away to live and work in other countries.

Legal translation covers many areas. Some are straightforward such as the translation of a birth certificate or a will. Others are more complicated and involve litigation, corporate contracts and banking law.

Legal Interpreting often goes hand in hand with translation, especially if there is a court case. An interpreter will often be required to interpret evidence at court hearings, or at meetings that are held before or during a trial.

Another service linked to legal translation is transcribing. Witness statements and interviews often need to be transcribed so that the documents can be used in court. A legal transcriber can work as a freelancer, but many work for law firms.

A legal translator needs to be able to fully understand legal terminology and be aware of the differences in the laws of the source and target languages. Many translators specialise in a particular field. For example, commercial law or family law.

It’s important to use a professional legal translator whatever type of legal document you need translating. Mistakes can cause delays, costly changes and even cancelled court cases. One very famous translation error is thought to have caused the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. In 1945, the American government demanded that the Japanese surrender and sign the Potsdam agreement.

The Japanese replied saying something like “we need time to think about it.” However, there was a word used, which should have meant ‘think’, but was translated to ‘ignore’. The Americans presumed the Japanese weren’t taking any notice of the agreement and that they weren’t going to surrender, which wasn’t what they said. When they didn’t hear any more from the Japanese, they dropped the bomb.

Language Insight only deal with legal translators who hold a professional qualification and have a solid working knowledge of the legal system. We also offer interpreting and transcription services and we work with many solicitors, police forces and legal bodies. Full details of our services can be found here.

Contact us by email or telephone. You’ll find the details on our website.

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