Translationese in Legal Translation: Presentation at NAJIT 2016

After a brief hiatus giving presentations on translation and interpreting topics, I decided to resume my training activities and submitted a proposal to the National Association of Judiciary Translators and Interpreters (NAJIT). I am delighted to announce that I will be part of a select group of people who will present seminars and workshops during a weekend full of training and learning, as well as networking and meeting with old friends from all over the country.

The topic of the presentation, “Translationese in Legal Translation,” came about after many years working in the legal translation industry. More often than not, I find translations which attorneys, judges, and prosecutors find acceptable, even though these translations are very far from an idiomatic, cultural-oriented document. Legal translation is a very specialized field which requires not only knowledge of legal terminology in the source language, but also knowledge of how things work in the judicial systems the translation is going to be used in.

These are only a couple of very recent examples I’ve found showing how translators are not taking their jobs and reputation seriously:

  • ES into EN translation, certified by the translator, and submitted as evidence before a court:
Original text Unidiomatic translation
Dirección de Tránsito y Transporte Address of Transit and Transport
Presidente Municipal Municipal President
El presente certificado[…] The present certificate[…]
  • EN into ES translation of an agreement, which later would be posted on the Internet:
Original text Unidiomatic translation
[…] in consideration of the mutual promises and covenants herein contained, and for other good and valuable consideration, the parties agree as follows[…] […]en consideración de las promesas mutuas aquí contenidas y por otra buena y valiosa consideración, la cual se reconocen aquí como amplia y aceptablemente recibida, las partes convienen lo siguiente[…]
Unfortunately the field of legal translations is plagued with these kind of target texts, but the worst part about it is that they pass as acceptable. In my workshop, I will discuss how to avoid translationese by showing several translation methods based on translation theories and translation literature. I hope many colleagues can join me. I can’t wait to have an enriching discussion on the different approaches to translating very specialized documents, and how important is to do it ethically and professionally.

I hope to see many of my colleagues from Nevada and California!


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