Re: [Czechlist] Pasted legal language
- Thanks, Matej, this sounds right.
On Jan 28, 2009, at 2:39 AM, Matej Klimes wrote:
> I'd say that (could) be a valid approach to translating proverbs -
> if you don't need the meaning in sentences around them, but tell the
> agency to pay for a new translation - or a complete overhaul, which
> usually takes the same if not more time tran translation..
> And the reason behind the mess could well be different (and I
> woundn't blame the agency for not telling you) - they first got a
> cheap inexperienced Eastern-European native translator to translate
> the contract, which they did and it came out in broken English with
> a slight shift in meaning. Then they got an English native editor
> (who does not read the original language, or only does so to a
> relatively small degree) to edit it. The editor just edited
> everything that sounded weird into what they thought was being said
> and bingo, the mystery is born...
> I think that's the most likely scenario. If a translator is good
> enough in English to knwo and correctly use perfect legal phrases,
> they are not very likely to confuse their meaning or fail to notice
> they mean something else..
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: James Kirchner
> To: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com
> Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 4:02 AM
> Subject: [Czechlist] Pasted legal language
> I've got a weird job, and I wonder if anyone on the list has ever
> gotten anything like this:
> It's general contract for a company in Eastern Europe employing
> freelancers. It has been translated into English, and then edited by
> a British editor. The language is quite normal legal language, and I
> have to examine it and change anything that's wrong.
> It appeared to me that the translation was of a newer version of the
> contract than the original I'd been given, because almost all of the
> additions, deletions and changes in meaning seemed to make some kind
> of legal sense. This made me hesitate to correct them. Plus, it was
> in impeccably written English.
> I expressed the problem to the agency client, and they explained what
> had been done by their attorney and what had not. This put things in
> a whole new light.
> Then it started to seem that the English translator or editor, instead
> of translating what the contract said, found and used the closest
> common English legal phrase he or she knew to what the original
> language said, even if the standard phrase or sentence didn't mean the
> same thing. So it's in beautiful legal English, but it's often wrong.
> For example, the original contract says that the supplier is liable
> for damages caused by his subcontractor. The English version says
> that the supplier and his subcontractor are "jointly and severally
> liable", which sounds like standard contract language in English, but
> it isn't a translation, and it isn't what the contract said in the
> original language. There are lots of cases of this throughout the
> Has anyone run into that?
> This reminds me of some trouble I had with an inexperienced American
> editor once who insisted that I use the English "equivalents" of Czech
> proverbs, and didn't seem to care if the Czech proverb and the English
> proverb had very different meanings. So, if the Czech proverb meant,
> "Drink and be merry," and the English proverb meant, "Everyone wants
> to kill his mother-in-law," he would insist they were equivalent if
> both proverbs had rabbits in them, or something like that. That's an
> exaggeration, but you get the idea.
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