T The ranslation of Japanese into English, as one would imagine, is a painstaking procedure. This is because, unlike translation of European languages into English, the translator often comes across words or phrases where the meaning can not be expressed entirely in English. When faced with this conundrum, the translator has 2 options:
(1) compromise by using an English word or phrase that closely resembles the Japanese, but does not quite transfer its full meaning, so part of the meaning becomes' lost in translation '; or
(2) rework the whole sentence or even paragraph to transfer the full meaning. More often than not, the professional translator will need to opt for option 2 in order to fully transfer the meaning of Japanese over to the English.
The above mentioned conundrum appears with varying frequency depending on the type of passage being translated. The conundrum would arise again and again when translating an emotive passage containing lots of metaphors by the famous author Yukio Mishima. On the other hand, the conundrum appears small in legal documents. This is because, in whatever language they are written in, the main purpose of legal documents is to clearly express the intention of the parties to it – they are emotionless documents. Therefore, in fact fact, legal translation is far easier to translate than, for example, translation of a Japanese novel.
This is not to say that Japanese legal translation is easy. I was lucky enough to have legal training in law and a training contract for 2 years in a law firm where I drafted legal documents every day, giving me an intricate understanding of legal vocabulary and concepts. I also have a working understanding of the Japanese legal system, so I'm going to come across very few words or concepts that are unfamiliar to me while doing my translations
Legal Japanese translation is beginning to become a more in demand service. This is mainly due to the increasing acceptance of litigation in Japanese personal and business life. The Japanese have a strong sense of honor and traditionally held a very suspicious view of lawyers, but increasingly the Japanese see lawyers as indispensable protectors of their legal rights and valuable business assets, especially in the international community.
There has been a particular increase in the Japanese legal translation market through document reviews. This is where a Japanese client has employed a law firm for representation in a dispute, and the law firm initiates a process where paralegals are asked to sift through mounds of documents to find any which may prove decisive for their client's case. All the documents they pick out must be given to a legal Japanese translation expert to prepare them for use at court.
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