Legal Translation, A Special Language Made on Purpose

Legal translations are understood as the translation of legal (technical) materials from one language to another. Due to a variety of unique complexities, the legal language is a difficult to understand for laypersons. Legal language contains extensive specific terminology, whether it concerns English legal translation, Spanish legal translation, French legal translation, German legal translation, Japanese legal translation, or any other language combination.

Legal translators must have extensive knowledge of terminology in the English legal language and the corresponding foreign language. Legal translation services involve diligent and accurate legal documents translation. To achieve the best possible translation quality, you need to choose legal translators who are fully trained and experienced in this specialized subject matter.

During the Middle Ages, legal documents were historically made as a solid block of script whose long lines stretched from margin to margin. There were no indentations or spacing to indicate the limits of paragraphs or the relation between them. It was common for draftsmen to compose an entire document in the form of one single sentence. Another characteristic of English legal texts is the absence of punctuation. These factors make legal texts much more difficult to read. Punctuation also helps with the logical comprehension of the content, and anyone who has ever read legal texts will attest that they are quite difficult to comprehend.

Legal texts were historically meant to be read in silence, not to be spoken out loud. The relative absence of punctuation was intentional since legal texts were supposed to be scrutinized in silence. Medieval scholars considered the use of punctuation to be superfluous as the meaning of the sentence was supposed to become evident from its grammatical structure.

The English legal lexicon contains many Latinisms (Latin terms) because historically the Roman Catholic Church exerted a lot of power in Europe and Latin was considered the language of learning and literature. In addition to Latinisms, the existence of French terms within the English legal language is also apparent because after the Norman Conquest in 1066, the language of the invaders gained an undeniable position in the legal sphere of England, introducing a wealth of French legal terminology.

The English legal lexicon contains a great number of archaic legal terms but this touch of archaism is intentional. This tendency towards the use of archaic words adds a flavor of formality to the document. Some lawyers prefer to use old-fashioned terms instead of modern ones; for example, they use “imbibe” as an alternative of “drink”, “inquire” rather than “ask”, “peruse” instead of “read”, “forthwith” as a substitution of “right away” or “at once” and so on.

The conservative use of archaic legal terminology has created a lexicon that is widely understood among experts. Many archaic words have acquired an authoritative interpretation over the years and altering them would be risky. Accordingly, this ongoing use of old-fashioned diction is a matter of convenience and tradition.

Despite the fact that the archaic touch within the legal language might be useful for the experts, its functionality within the wider community is debatable. Certain outdated terms and constructions are truly a hindrance to better understanding, and they make the legal language inaccessible for a regular reader. The unique complexity of legal translations makes it even more important to select a competent legal translation service for the translation of legal documents.