Are You Gambling with Your Company’s Legal Document Translation Needs?

ALA_websiteAs our world becomes smaller and flatter, accurate legal, corporate and technical translation services continue to be important for businesses of all sizes. To position your company for growth abroad, it is important to partner with a legal document translation company that can protect and enhance your company’s image at home and globally.

  • Avoid the common misconception about translators and interpreters.   Many companies often suffer from the common misconception that any individual who speaks a foreign language is automatically a translator.  Just because your intern or co-worker grew up speaking German doesn’t mean they’d be a good translator.
  • Legal, corporate and technical translations have a high cost for failure. An article in the National Law Journal relates an instance where a large Italian bank was being sued as a loan guarantor. When the loan document was translated literally from Italian, it stated that the bank guaranteed the loan. However, the word “guarantee” has different meanings in Italian than it does in English, and a literal translation did not accurately convey the document’s meaning. The court dismissed the case, deciding that an Italian “guarantee” was different than an English “guarantee” – and the bank was not responsible for the loan.
  • Understand the difference between translators and interpreters.  There are two categories of language experts. The interpreter’s job is to translate orally from one language to another everything that is said, preserving the tone and style of the original speech.   Translators deal with written documents, taking into account various language and terminology issues and the context.

In other words, translators translate documents, and interpreters interpret speech.  There exist some language professionals who are great at both translating the written word and interpreting the spoken word. But more often than not, they are an exception, not a rule.

  • Medical and technical document translations. Translation is a very specialized field. In addition to being linguists, some translators are professionally qualified in specific technical disciplines, such as aerospace, biochemistry , hardware and software, electrical engineering, finance, law, mechanical engineering, medicine, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications. Some only translate patents and others concentrate only on translation of technical manuals or only on translation of contracts. Most of the professional translators work only in a single language pair and in one direction (e.g., English to Italian). It is a good sign if the translation company, whose services your company uses, provides professionally executed legal, corporate and technical translations and utilizes translators, who are certified by the American Translators Association and who translate only into their native language.
  • Say it right using human translation services. It is tempting to use free online translation tools.  But flying blind and sending poorly translated documents to people who do not know you will have dire and irreversible consequences. You cannot repair a poor first impression, nor can you fix a damaged reputation. Don’t monkey around with machine translation. Let the multilingual confidential translation service write the right words. Remember, words are the bridge between people around the world, forming the delicate bonds of the new global economy.


Nina L. Ivanichvili is CEO of All Language Alliance, Inc.,  legal translation and interpreting company providing certified translation, legal document translation and deposition interpreting services in more than 100 foreign languages.  Contact her at 303-470-9555. Website:  Subscribe to legal translation blog Translation for Lawyers
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