Monday, February 22, 2010

Legally Speaking - Talk To Me In My Native Tongue

Unless you're a lawyer, legal documents are hard to understand; they are detail oriented and complex, often using terms that are indigenous to the legal profession. Specifically created to cover any situation that could occur between the parties involved, each word and phrase is intended to have legal impact that can be upheld in a court of law. Yet these documents are an integral part of our lives. It is inevitable that throughout a lifetime, we will all be required to sign a legal document, i.e. birth certificates, marriage licenses, purchase contracts, etc.

The purpose of a contract is usually to institute "clearly defined rights and duties" for the participants. And legal vocabulary has its own peculiarities such as word doubling or "near-synonym pairs" that are intended for specific impact. Not understanding this impact, can alter the ability to comprehend the implications of the agreement being signed.

In business contracts and agreements, it is common in our multi-cultural world that the parties involved are from different cultures, often with native languages other than English. When this is the case, it is imperative that the legal document be translated into the native tongues of the people signing the agreement. To begin with, law is "culture-dependent" and the specifics being required in a contract could have stipulations that are not a part of legal transactions in the mother land of one or more of the parties involved.

Many industries have built-in capabilities of providing legal documents for languages that are a large part of their communities. Some businesses are more paper dependent and contract driven than others. For these companies, translation is an acknowledged part of their legal interactions.

Recognizing the need for Spanish translated legal documents for the mortgage industry, the mortgage giant, Fannie Mae, has Spanish Translations of mortgage documents available on their website. And, in many areas of the country, one of the Mortgage Industry's document preparation systems - Calyx - allows the loan officer to request all of the required documents in Spanish. In other areas of the country other language options are available as well.

The Mortgage Industry is just one of the many areas of business that have become dependent on translated legal documents to help in their everyday interactions. Not all businesses have readily available translated documents - many legal interactions are specific to the parties involved and have been written and therefore must be translated on an individual basis.

Professional translation is imperative with legal documents because even if both parties can read and speak English, the mistranslation of a word or a passage in a contract could result in lawsuits and broken agreements. Lawsuits have been brought and contracts have been broken simply because one of the parties did not thoroughly understand what they had signed. In legal transactions, the saying "lost in translation" can have long-term, expensive consequences.

Author Monica Castro
Translations Wave

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