Given that traditional contract language is confusing for native English speakers, it stands to reason that translating contracts from or into English would be a problematic undertaking. That’s something I wrote about in this article for the Bulletin of the Institute of Translation & Interpreting. (Hey, I’d find a way to get an article on contract drafting in any periodical!)
It was because of that article that I was contacted by Juliette Scott. She’s a language specialist who’s working on a PhD at the University of Portsmouth. She also blogs at Words to Deeds, a blog aimed at building bridges between translation and the law.
Her PhD research looks at the legal profession’s experience with translation, in particular of corporate and court-related documents. As part of her research she’s conducting a survey of people who commission or work with legal translations. (Go here to access the survey.) She asked me if I would be interested in taking the survey, but I haven’t had much occasion to work with translated contracts. But I volunteered to mention her survey on this blog, and that’s what I’m doing now.
If you have any contact with translated legal documents, I encourage you complete Juliette’s survey.
2 thoughts on “Do You Work with Translated Contracts? Juliette Scott Wants to Hear from You”
Juliette’s work in the area of legal translations highlights the importance of quality translations. However, those of us accustomed to working with contracts in multiple languages know that it is nearly impossible for the meaning of a translated document to be 100% identical to its original. This is rarely due to the quality or skill of the translator – it is simply due to the fact that the translation of a particular term or expression does not always carry the identical meaning (including all of its nuances) in another language.
One way around this is to specify which version prevails in case of conflict. E.g.: “This contract exists in English and French. In the event of inconsistencies between the two versions, the English version will prevail.” Regardless of the quality of the translation, I believe this provision is key.
I fully agree Sandy, and thanks for your input.