Translation and translation revision by lawyer-linguists
"The law is constituted in terms of language and cannot subsist without it. The understanding about what is lawful and what is law is bound to the medium of language. It forms the very basis. Without it, law cannot come into being, be interpreted and be acknowledged"
Quote by a German lawyer-linguist of the 19th century, vis-á-vis a quote by a contemporary:
"The law is overwhelmingly about language" (Roger Shuy, American forensic linguistics scholar)
Have you ever commissioned a translation agency either to translate a legal writing or to revise a translated legal document only to find out that the translation or revision performed does not meet your expectations with regard to legal translation and legal translation editing state-of-the-art expertise?
But what you know is that translation and revision work in the field of law and finance must be concise, unambiguous, accurate, precise and certain in every point. You know that, don't you.
This is where Eulenhaupt Translation Services comes in.
Eulenhaupt Translation Services is a group of lawyers, operating as linguists, engaging in translation and editing services in the field of law, economics and finance professionals, operating as linguists, engaging in translation and editing services in the field of business, trade and finance, as well as graduate linguists, actualizing in legal and financial translation and legal and fiancial translation proofreading services.
The way we work
As a network, Eulenhaupt Translation Services operates on the principle of dual control through interdisciplinary collaboration. Consequently, in order to ensure a second opinion in the true sense of the expression, every translation by a lawyer or an economics and finance professional is subject to review by a graduate linguist. And vice versa, every translation carried out by a professional translator is checked by a graduate lawyer and a financial expert, respectively.
Centre of interest
The focus is on translating voluminous complex legal documents.
Routine and polished fluency in both the source and target language is to be combined with expertise in the conventions and divergences arising from disparate legal frameworks: What should be noted in this context are conventions and divergences within a legal system, for example the law of Switzerland, between different legal systems within a legal domain, like German law vis-á-vis Dutch law, both as part of the Continental European 'Germanic' and 'Napoleonic' legal cultures, or even the structural divergences and conventions between different legal domains, such as German law embedded in the Continental European legal domain or Civil Law culture, and British most notably English law forming the basis of the Anglo-Saxon legal domain or Common Law culture.
As bilingual and bicultural lawyers we see or at least can reflect substantive and procedural commonalities and differences in Civil law and Common law systems, both of which are connected to Roman law, whereas the first is structurally based on it to the widest practicable extent, the latter is not.
As has just been indicated and outlined, law is subject to the culture of a country and may vary substantially and essentially. Therefore, legal translation is considered one of the most challenging linguistic specialties.
Not only does any high quality legal translation demand syntactic, idiomatic, orthographic, semantic and grammatical correctness but also correctness of the contents in a broader sense. There is a necessity for both linguistic skills as well as legal skills to fulfil both demands.
- In the words of the American lawyer Francisco Avalos it reads as follows: “Legal translating requires two basic skills. The first skill is a fundamental knowledge of the original and target languages. The second skill is an intelligent grasp of the legal system of each of the countries involved. The state of these two conditions in the legal translator will determine the quality of a legal translation. A good legal translator has the ability to not only retain the integrity of the legal information of a document, but to capture nuance inherent in a language, while also respecting the author's writing style.“
- The Chinese Australian linguist and legal scholar Deborah Cao adds: “Given the complexity and difficulty of legal translation, one may wonder whether law is translatable and whether true equivalence can be achieved in legal translation. If one beliefs that no two historical epochs, no two social classes and not wo localities use words and syntax to signify exactly the same things [...], then one may question whether translation attempting to achieve equivalence is indeed possible. It is a fact that one major and frequently encountered difficulty in legal translation is the translation of foreign legal concepts.”
- Furthermore, notice what the Danish linguist Jan Engberg has to say: “Comparative Law and Legal Translation are close relatives, they work across the barriers of languages and legal systems, they intend to create bridges enabling users to see relations between different legal and linguistic settings and understand the unfamiliar, and they rely upon each other in their activities. Despite the fact that the focus of performers of comparative law and of legal translators are somewhat different, there is enough overlap concerning focus, methods, and basic assumptions for them to be directly comparable and to learn from each other.”
- And finally, a quote of the Croatian lawyer and lecturer in legal translation Susan Sarcevic: “Making reliable decisions (as a legal translator) requires not only legal competence but also considerable intuition. In legal translation intuition is not a natural ability but is acquired through interdisciplinary training in law and translation.”
In late 1995 Eulenhaupt Translation Services was established as a network of legal translation professionals by lawyer-linguist Michael Eulenhaupt who began translating legal documents when he was student at Amsterdam Law School. As a German native speaker living in Holland for many years, it seemed the obvious thing to do.
As of February 1995, after graduating with a masters degree in Dutch law from the Universiteit van Amsterdam, while fully engaging into professional legal translation in his capacity as a Dutch-German common lawyer Michael gradually became an English-Dutch-German legal language expert and a specialist in professional contract revision and translation issues - one out of a very small number.
When doing business state-of-the-art communication is more important than ever. Use of the smartphone, netbook and desktop computer ensure optimal internal and external communication; which means communication within the translators´ network and between you as the customer and us as the supplier.
Computer software and Computer-Assisted Translation
Every single translator of the network is very experienced in dealing with computer software and the Internet. Consider automatic speech recognition and computer-aided translation which can substantially simplify the processing and management of texts that are (largely) identical, not only in terminology but also in structure. 'computer-assisted' translation software memorizes words and syntax. This is especially useful not only with repetitive text but also with information that needs frequent updating. However, with legal translations, experience has proven the relative value of such tools. Which does not mean, on the other hand, that they are useless.
Nevertheless, computer-assisted translation has begun to play an increasingly important role within the translation and localization industry, and will do so in the future by way of a conclusion, due to the gradual overall computerization of the entire translation process, although terminology coincides:
When computer-assisted translation ('computer-aided' translation) is mentioned, certain cross-references can also be found in machine translation, and in particular in the hybrid forms of human and machine translation, sometimes referred to as HAMT (Human Aided Machine Translation), which are described in the following.
Artificial Intelligence: Legal Translation and Post-Editing Machine Translation
When it comes to automated translation, it should be noted that, as the third decade of the 21st century has begun to unfold, the ongoing evolution of machine automatically generated translation may be utilized as a first draft in almost every field (excluding the field of literature but including the field of law).
Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Processing, Statistical Language Modeling as well as Self-Learning Algorithms, Neural Machine Translation, and, lately: Large Language Models together with Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback, albeit, when to use which for legal translation?
As a result of the development, the translator's profession profile will not disappear but will be streamlined. Only the real experts in their specialist field will remain (lawyer-linguists in the legal field for example). In the foreseeable future, conventional translation as we have known it up to now will be replaced by mere revision (editing and proofreading), commonly known as 'post-editing machine translation' by a professional editor, an experienced reviser in the capacity of a so-called post-editor.
In order to effectuate a smooth process of machine translation post-editing (revision ex-post), it is recommendable to implement a process of pre-editing too (revision ex-ante) which means the editing of the source text.
Although largely suboptimal, not to say dull and routine in terms of style, such advanced machine-translated texts often appear syntactically, grammatically and semantically correct. A critical point, however, since one should not mistake fluency for competence: A professional and knowledgeable look reveals a grave lack of linguistic subtleties and nuances, omitted words, terminological error and gross inconsistencies in terminology. Even trickier are incorrect contextual references and improper and inaccurate contextual attributions, and the most tricky, however, are subtle syntactic distortions, such as the interchange of subject and complement or an unjustified negation in a sentence.
Beyond any doubt, such shortcomings require a highly skilled eye to be detected!
Notwithstanding that, terminological coherence and consistency, sentencing in line with the sentential expression, correct contextual reference and proper and accurate contextual attribution are key factors and thus crucial when translating legal matters!
A compelling reason not only for not entrusting the translation of any kind of complex and challenging legal text to 'legal translators' but even more so the revision of legal writings of all kinds.
All the more true of course when translating texts known as 'scientific & academic', plainly because of translatorese, yet potential legalese - which may give rise to translationese - ought to be avoided by means of an appropriate and thus competent, knowledgeable and proficient posteditese, performed under expertise.
What does this mean?
It means to call in Eulenhaupt Translation Services' experienced lawyer-linguists in their legal language, legal translation and legal editing expert capacity, doing what is called 'legal PEMT' or legal MTPE, in the role of sufficiently qualified legal post-editing specialists.
And, what exactly does this mean?
It means attentively scrutinizing automatically translated legal text, and thus spotting and fixing inconsistencies, detecting and correcting errors, discerning and supplying omissions, uncovering and rectifying misconceptions and identifying and eliminating imprecise and ambiguous terminological choices. Remember the "five Cs" to summarize the task of a copy editor, which is to make a copy (legal translation for that matter) clear, correct, concise, coherent and consistent.
What is to be further noted at this point: Since the activity of machine translation plus post-editing and the attribute of a post-editor are of a new kind, it is noticeable, if not apparent that certain indications, suggestions and assertions are somehow premature and thus do not withstand a closer look, for example the suggested distinction between a so-called light post-editing and full post-editing procedure.
You don't have to be a lawyer to realise that light post-editing (self-imposed limitation on correcting semantic and syntactical errors and terminological inconsistencies that are 'instantly jumping into the professional eye') may be suitable, for example, when translating a general press release, but certainly not in the case of the translation of a bundle of binding contracts. Anyone who, as a language service provider, tries to sell a light post-editing in the field of law must be regarded as untrustworthy and thus disreputable, at least in the eyes of a professional lawyer-linguist.
Why is that so, basically? Well, simply because in fact, a light revision of a legal translation performed by means of artificial intelligence tools can work out extremely heavy and thus costly, anyway. A bad case scenario: Light post-editing work, as a result of a budgeting mistake, has to be redone by a real professional or - as a worst case scenario - shortcomings are noticed only after a lawyer relied on such lightness in legal translation to a client's detriment in an ongoing litigation proceeding:
"Traditionally, lawyers dealing with foreign-language documents had no option but to locate and pay human translators; in recent years, lawyers and law firms have had the cheaper, simpler option of purchasing machine translation software to perform their translation work.
As neural machine translation software continues to approach human-like accuracy, its use will likely become widespread in the legal profession. Since lawyers are both unlikely to understand the intricacies of legal translation and unable to personally verify the accuracy of translations, there is potential for blind reliance on neural translation systems, and malpractice suits may be filed if a substantial enough translation error surfaces."
Data safety and thus the maintenance of confidentiality is a major concern ever since computer networks exist - all the more so recently in connection with so called cloud based 'services'.
And here again, you have it. This mismatch between what is considered to be smart marketing and the harsh reality. I mean, you know, everybody wants to make use of the cutting-edge artificial intelligence potential while the matter as such is something of a nature, ambivalent to the very bone!
A large Swiss agency of lawyer-linguists claims to have developed a translation engine specifically tailored to the judicial sector in the broadest sense of the word, with access to this feature being offered worldwide against payment of a flat monthly fee. But, you see, on the one hand, it is claimed that collected data - including, of course, personal data - is only stored for the duration of the process of the automatic translation and is then deleted. At the same time, it is claimed that specific translations (i.e. 'data') already existing would be constantly improved by new 'inputs' (what are - in this regard - 'inputs' other than 'data' collected through subscriptions?).
So, on the one hand they do not actually 'store' any data there, but on the other hand they want to permanently improve the quality of the existing 'stored' data by ever collecting and thus storing new, even more data. You don't have to be a computer linguist to realise that something can't be right here. (Just do a Google-Search: "there is no data like more data".)
In our capacity as a tech-savvy specialized legal translation and legal translation editing provider all assignments will be treated by us with the utmost confidentiality, as far as confidentiality can be guaranteed within the scope of what is technically feasible, reasonable and manageable. It goes without saying: confidentiality, along with quality and punctuality, is the most important factor in Eulenhaupt Translation Services' relationship to its clients.
E-mail and file encryption
In order to implement a confidential handling of entrusted data to the widest possible extent we provide for secured file transfer. Our PGP public encryption key - which you can find in the side menu at the upper right-hand side - is available for those correspondents who wish to send us information in confidence, and also for those who value the meaning of privacy, even if one has got nothing to hide.
Eulenhaupt Translation Services' Amsterdam branch of is a main supplier of Dutch - English - Dutch legal translation services and legal translation editing services ('juridische vertalingen Engels - Nederlands - Engels') and Dutch - German - Dutch legal translation services and legal translation editing services ('juridische vertalingen Duits - Nederlands - Duits') whereas the Berlin branch provides state-of-the-art German - English - German legal translation services and legal translation editing services ('juristische Fachübersetzungen Englisch - Deutsch - Englisch').
Since there is a high standard of personal understanding within each member of the network Eulenhaupt Translation Services can respond very quickly and flexibly to any request for the translation and revision of legal writings.
In other words, due to the special nature of our lawyer-linguists' network we are in a position to provide you with high quality translation, review and editing of legal documents within the shortest turnaround times.
A further advantage offered by our network of experts results from the fact, on contacting us, you communicate directly with the specialist as the person in charge for the translation or the revision and not with a project manager as the person responsible for the project, as is usually the case with translation agencies.
A project manager is there to manage the allocation, workflow and status of a translation order, that is to pass legal texts as translation text or review text, and thus also any arising question or suggestion to the 'third party', the legal translator.
This advantage of direct contact takes effect when, for example, on the occasion of a forwarded preliminary version, specific change requests have to be implemented promptly in the ongoing translation process. At this point there is a substantial difference in being able to call on the translator as the person directly in charge for the works or on a third party as the translator or, if the third party translator is indisposed or otherwise unavailable, on a substitute, in order to accomplish this task!