Category Archives: Legal Translation

8 Myths About Spanish To English Translation Debunked

When I first set up my translation practice, I did mostly legal translations from Spanish into British English in a British legal system. Since then, I translate into US English as well, in more specialty areas, and I have discovered and debunked various myths about Spanish to English translation.
Myth No. 1: All source documents contain the same kind of terminology.
Fact: Source documents in Spanish can originate from at least 27 Spanish-speaking countries in the world. Therefore, terminology can differ depending on the document’s country of origin.

Spanish is spoken in at least 27 countries of the world.

Myth No. 2: Native Spanish speakers who are “bilingual” can do Spanish to English translations.
Fact: This is not always the case. Translations into English are best done by native English speakers since English is perhaps the most complicated language, and non-native speakers often have difficulty grasping all the nuances of the language.
Myth No. 3: Since Spanish and English are commonly spoken, Spanish to English translations should be cheap.
Fact: Pricing for Spanish to English translations depends on a number of variables such as deadline, format, level of difficulty or technical nature of the project, and availability of appropriately qualified linguists.
Myth No. 4: Translators can work on any kind of translation project.
Fact: No two translation projects are created equal. There are various kinds of documents, including legal, medical, commercial, corporate, pharmaceutical, financial, scientific, technical, to name a few. Successful translators are expert in the specialty area of the respective project.
Myth No. 5: Spanish to English translations should never be done by native Spanish speakers.
Fact: Some native Spanish speakers have displayed such a strong proficiency in Spanish to English translation that they have earned their qualification to translate from Spanish into English.
Myth No. 6: Spanish to English translators should be able to provide Spanish/English interpreting services.
Fact: Interpreting is the rendering of oral material from one language into another and translation is the rendering of written material from one language into another. Both translation and interpreting require different skill sets.
Translation and interpreting require different skill sets.

Myth No. 7: A Spanish to English translator of documents should be able to translate Spanish audio files into English.
Fact: A translator may have the ability to read and understand Spanish well but may not be able to hear and understand recorded Spanish in the same way.
Myth No. 8: Spanish to English translation can be done using Google Translate.
Fact: Professional translations should be 100 percent human translated to avoid serious errors, especially since words may be written the same way but have several different, unrelated meanings.
Professional translations should be 100 percent human translated.

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The Anatomy of a Great Legal Translation – 7 Basic Tips

law and legal compressed
A translation can make or break a legal case. Therefore, when clients approach translators, they want to be assured that the work product will enhance their chances of being successful. Following are some quick tips that will help to put you on the way to providing a great legal translation.
1. When providing legal translations, unless otherwise instructed, do not reproduce images such as photos, letterheads, logos, emblems, coats of arms, stamps, seals, signatures, etc. Instead, refer to the image in the target language in square brackets. For example, describe a stamp as [Stamp] if the target language is English or use the corresponding word in the target language. Immediately beside or below this, in the target language, provide a full description of the text within and surrounding the image.
2. Portions in source documents that are handwritten should be noted as handwritten in the translations. If handwritten portions are illegible, they should be noted as [illegible handwriting] in the target language; e.g., [letra ilegible] if the target language is Spanish.
3. Always make sure the appropriate Bates number appears on each page in the translation in the place where it is located in the source file. This also applies to other numerals and marginal notes.
4. Even though you will not be reproducing images, the layout, formatting and pagination in the translated file should always be as similar as possible to the layout, formatting and pagination in the source file.

When clients approach translators, they want to be assured that the work product will enhance their chances of being successful.
When clients approach translators, they want to be assured that the work product will enhance their chances of being successful.

5. Normally, names and addresses should not be translated. In the first occurrence of each name and/or address, leave the original name and/or address in the source language and if applicable, place the translated name and/or address in square brackets next to it. For each subsequent appearance, keep the name and/or address in the source language. For example, the Spanish translation of The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should be rendered as The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) [Departamento de Vivienda y Desarrollo Urbano de los EE.UU, o HUD, por sus siglas en inglés]. This should be done in the first instance only. After that, use the name in the source language alone, unless there is a change to the name. It is not appropriate to put the translation first and the source text after.
6. Do not leave electronic comments for your clients in the translation. Translate the document as accurately as possible and if absolutely necessary for clarification purposes, place your comment at the end of the document after the words “Translator’s Note.” You may use footnotes that refer to specific areas of the text or endnotes if your comments generally refer to the entire source file. Otherwise, send your comment(s) to your clients in your email, along with the delivery.
7. Never be pressured by anyone to add to or subtract from the meaning of the source text in your translation. If you cannot see it, it probably is not there. While it is acceptable to be flexible to accommodate preferential changes, your legal translation needs to accurately reflect the source document.