Legal document translation in Chinese is becoming ever more frequent in our times because of the growing levels of trade between China and the rest of the world. In fact, China is one of the world’s strongest trading partners but when it comes to international trade and business, accurate legal document translation in Chinese is essential. There are multiple reasons for this and we explore them in more detail below. We also take a look at some of the qualities your translator who is translating a Chinese document to English or translating an English document to Chinese will be required to possess for high-quality Chinese legal translations. Let’s explore this topic below.
How important is a high-quality translation for legal documents?
Legal document translations in Chinese must be as accurate and high quality as possible and this accuracy must be guaranteed by the translation services provider you’ve chosen. The reasons for this are manifold. Here are just a few you should consider.
- Avoid losing face: in Chinese and other Asian countries, the concept of “losing face” is critical. Essentially, it means that one party does not disrespect or dishonor the dignity of another party. Causing someone embarrassment is a huge no-no because it goes against the cultural values that prevail in the country. As a result, for those seeking Chinese legal translations, one of the most important aspects to consider is that you want accuracy as far as possible because you do not want to jeopardize your relationship with the other contracting party owing to a mistranslated concept, clause, appendix, etc., which can significantly affect your professional and business relationship with the other party.
- Avoid losing money: international trade has a lot to do with money. And no one wants to lose money when they know that this could be prevented. If you have a legal document translation in Chinese, you should ensure that all clauses of your contract or agreement are as accurately translated as possible. One mistranslation or the substitution of the word “may” for “must” could result in costly legal battles owing to a mistranslated piece of legal content.
- Avoid lawsuits: unfortunately, lawsuits are used as the final resort when there is a dispute between two parties. These are usually used when all dispute resolution processes are exhausted. However, lawsuits can be extremely costly, particularly in the concept of international trade and cross-border legal disputes. A mistranslated or inaccurately translated legal document in Chinese or English could result in costly lawsuits that will ultimately damage the relationship between the contracting parties.
- Avoid penalties: another aspect to consider when dealing with legal document translation in Chinese is the avoidance of penalties. If you are submitting a legal document to a governmental body, such as a business registration department in a particular ministry, your translation needs to be 100% accurate because you may risk facing penalties. These penalties may include delays in getting your business started, challenges in actually carrying out the primary nature of the business, and more.
- Avoid disputes over contracts and obligations: finally, if a legal document translation in Chinese is not accurate and of high quality, you could also face disputes over contracts and obligations. Words that have dual meanings could easily be misconstrued or misinterpreted by one of the parties, leading to confusion or perhaps a mixed message or signal related to their obligations. This can have severe financial consequences for your business and it’s critical to ensure that you have a high-quality legal document translation in Chinese.
What qualities should you look for in a translator when translating documents to and from Chinese?
Chinese is considered a difficult language to master and hence, the translator that you use when you translate a Chinese document to English or you translate an English document to Chinese must be exceptionally well-versed in the language. Let’s take a look now at some of the main qualities you should look out for in a translator for Chinese legal translations.
- A native speaker or a translator who is well-versed in both languages
Although there are multiple machine tools and computer-aided programs, which help with a translation project, mistakes can happen, the machines are not always capable of picking up nuances in the language, and a human translator’s touch will always be required in the beginning, middle, and final phases of the translation project. Hence, a bilingual speaker of both Chinese and English will be required to assure you of your translation project’s quality.
- Knowledge of both countries’ legal systems
However, speaking the source and target language is not the only requirement. Because the law is such a particular field and because legal systems across countries differ from one another, it’s crucial that your translator also has knowledge and familiarity with both legal systems involved. This means some form of legal specialization as well. For example, many English contracts contain modal verbs such as “may”, “should”, and “must”. And there are distinct reasons for including one of these particular words in a contract. One may imply an obligation to do something whereas another could be interpreted as providing a choice of whether to take action. Therefore, such discrepancies must be dealt with in the linguistic sense when embarking on a legal document translation in Chinese.
- A translator who pays attention to details
Apart from being a bilingual speaker, and having familiarity and a specialization in both countries’ legal systems, a quality translator will also be extremely well versed with the rules of grammar, word usage, syntax, punctuation, and other grammatical details when embarking on a legal document translation in Chinese. In English customs, for example, contracts usually start out by defining the parties to the contract and providing definitions of key terms used in it before going into depth about the contract’s main body. These practices may be different in Chinese and a form of standardization will be required. However, this standardization will need to be carried out with absolutely zero errors, for the reasons outlined above.
- Is willing to accept feedback to improve the final product
As the last requirement for a high-quality legal document translation in Chinese, the translator must also possess certain personal qualities and characteristics to ensure that the translation is as flawless as possible. It must be kept in mind that the translation process involves several parties – from a project manager to a proofreader and editor and even a second translator to ensure the quality of the work. As a result, the translator involved in legal document translations in Chinese must be open-minded and willing to accept feedback to improve the final product.
Chinese legal translations: not as straightforward as they seem
Legal document translation in Chinese is a highly complex and specialized task that must be entrusted to a quality translation services provider, which can then allocate the work to the right translator. This translator, in turn, must be willing and able to work within a team and accept feedback for improving the final product as well as possess the right linguistic and industry-specific knowledge. Anything other than this could result in disastrous financial consequences for both parties to the legal contract and could lead to the loss of face, ultimately damaging what could have been a fruitful business relationship.