Whether you are doing business abroad, buying property or getting married in a foreign country, you may need the services of linguist who specialises in the language you require.
A common misconception held by non-linguists is that if a person can speak and write in a foreign language, they have the ability to translate any kind of document. The reality is that translators train for years in their target language and subjects to master the art of translating complex legal, medical and technical documents.
Below is an example of a legal document. You can see that the sentences are very long and without punctuation. There is also specialised vocabulary – jargon, which would be difficult to understand even for native speakers. The translators also have to have a deep knowledge of the legal systems in both countries and be up to date with changing legislation.
(Extracted from “El texto jurídico inglés y su traducción al español” by Anabel Borja Albi)
Medicine is also a great example of a field full of specialised terminology, and of course of vital importance to the patient that it is translated correctly.
(Extracted from “Latest developments and in vivo use of the Tet system: ex vivo and in vivo delivery of tetracycline-regulated genes” by Stéphane Y Corbel* and Fabio MV Rossi†)
This also applies to interpreting. For instance, in medical cases the quality of the interpreting performance can result in life or death. An outrageous case was the one where a Spanish speaker used the word “intoxicado” to explain to the paramedics that he had “stomach ace”, but they inferred the meaning of “intoxicated”. Due to the treatment for drugs and alcohol overdose he received, he ended up quadriplegic.
There are many more cases of translation fails. Even the change of a vowel can lead to a change of meaning, as it occurred in an advertising campaign by the United Kingdom Independence Party in Wales: in the Welsh translation for the name of the party they used “Du” -which means “black”-instead of “DU” -UK.
“Plaid Annibyniaeth y Du” = the “Black Independence Party”
Therefore, why don’t you rely on specialised linguists from the beginning and avoid the consequences of mistranslation?