4 Ways LinguistIt Is Changing Legal Translation in Israel 

I am going to do something unpopular on corporate blogs. I’m not going to beat around the bush. I am going to tell you why I know that LinguistIt offers something entirely new and yes better to the world of Israeli legal translation and why I am confident that you, your clients and your firm will gain qualitatively by LinguistIt for all your legal translation needs.

1. LinguistIt only uses Lawyer-Linguists to Translate Legal Documents

It is essential that translators understand the content of their translations. This is doubly true for sensitive legal documents, which require precision and are susceptible to small mistakes, which can be extremely costly. Lawyers have studied law in school, interned,  practice and keep up to date with the trends. So they are justifiably cautious when avoiding use of “legal translators” whose qualifications involve no more than calling themselves “legal translators.”

LinguistIt is unique in that it is founded by an Israel Bar Association certified lawyer who developed an expertise in translation. We have a growing team of in-house lawyer-linguists and ensure that every document that we translate is handled, translated, proofread and edited by our translator-attorneys.

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2. LinguistIt Cuts Out the Agency Middlemen    

When Israeli law firms seek out translation work, they often turn to large translation agencies who in-turn then hand the translations off to freelancers while taking a cut of the profit. LinguistIt continues to grow a team of in-house lawyer-linguists and trusted partners in order to meet the needs of our clients without turning to agency middlemen. This gives us the unique ability to guarantee the quality and legal accuracy of the translation, while at the same time keeping rates competitive.

3. LinguistIt’s Lawyers Understand What Lawyers Need 

LinguistIt is able to put our clients face to face with our lawyer-linguists and cater to their particular needs and deadlines. The LinguistIt team is comprised of lawyers who also understand the particular stresses and demands of the legal world in general and the Israeli legal community in particular.

We understand the hassles of ill-formatted, incorrect or sloppy translations, and the cost our clients pay for them in time and aggravation. In turn, we guarantee that our work will always meet expectations because it is our team that does the work with care, expertise, attention to detail and a rigorous proofreading process.

4. On-Time, Every Time

LinguistIt uses its consistent team of in-house lawyer-linguists to guarantee that we meet our clients’ timetables. We routinely field complicated translation work for large firms, major corporations as well as individuals and small businesses and meet even their most urgent deadlines.

Want to continue this conversation? Email me at ybrander@linguistit.com

LinguistIt Legal and Business Translations is a boutique legal translation firm that utilizes in-house lawyer-linguists, cutting out the agency middlemen, in order to provide the highest quality translations of legal and business documents with a commitment to customer service. We are proud to expertly serve clients ranging from leading Israeli law firms to start-ups and small businesses. Check us out on our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin for daily updates on the worlds of legal translation, international and Israeli law.

Why Even Stats Guru Nate Silver Rejects the Possibility of Data-Driven “Legal-Metrics”

Nate Silver, the founder and editor of FiveThirtyEight, is an evangelist of the benefits of utilizing more data and quantitative analysis in nearly every to field imaginable ranging from baseball, economics and politics, to the Oscars, travel and medicine (and who John Stewart referred to as “the Lord and God of the Algorithm”). In many of those areas his work is not only changing minds, but has proven remarkably accurate – even borderline prophetic – and has been deeply impactful across a wide range of sectors. And yet in a recent interview with George Mason University’s Tyler Cowen, Silver remarked that law stood little to gain from the type of data-driven analysis that has made him an icon.

COWEN: We’re in a law school right now. If we applied a lot more data to the law, what kind of improvement could you imagine we might come up with, just tentatively?

SILVER: See, I think that might be the last field where —[laughter]

SILVER: Where you would have a lot of — and I don’t say that in a pejorative way at all. But a lot of the advantage of working with data sets and becoming more adept at it is that you get an answer that’s at least approximately right. Whereas, the legal sector, I think, relies more on precision. You want a very precise and possibly wrong answer, which is what you’re trying to avoid sometimes when you’re doing statistical analysis.

His point is a powerful one: law is different. Lawyers are not in the business of constructing teams that will win championships, calculating who will win an election, making a medical diagnosis or choosing an appropriate treatment method – they are looking to focus on the very precise persuasive legal argument. Even if we quantified precedent, texts, statutes and logic- we couldn’t possibly hope to create an algorithm that extracts meaning from each of them or that compares, weighs and balances them against each other in a legally meaningful manner that can be applied to unique and localized cases. Lawyers must display artistic and compelling interpretations beyond aiming for a ruling within a few standard deviations of their desired outcome and at times must battle to prevent the result that may seem statistically likely or correct based on the known data.

This, of course, is not to say that law will be unaffected by statistics or data-driven decision-making. Rather, the types of decisions being made through it will likely remain at research phases, and decisions that focus less on what should be argued and instead where or in front of whom the same arguments should be made (see for example Ravel Law or Legalmetric).

 LinguistIt Legal and Business Translations is a boutique legal translation firm that utilizes in-house lawyer-linguists, cutting out the agency middlemen, in order to provide the highest quality translations of legal and business documents with a commitment to customer service. We are proud to expertly serve clients ranging from leading Israeli law firms to start-ups and small businesses. Check us out on our website and follow us on Facebook and Linkedin for daily updates on the worlds of legal translation, international and Israeli law.

LinguistIt: The Nexus of Law and Language

At LinguistIt Translations, it is our mission to provide the highest-quality Hebrew and English translations for financial, legal, and business documents while working with our clients to ensure that their deadlines and preferences are consistently met. It is an ambitious goal, but it is a focused one, and this vision guides our corporate decisions. From the team we assemble, to the software we use, the process that each project undergoes, the communities of practice we are part of, and our steadfast commitment to our team’s continuing education, our vision remains at the forefront throughout.

legal-translationFor example, every legal document that we process – be it a routine form or a complex pleading – is translated, proofread, and edited by experienced translators who are also licensed attorneys. Moreover, we continue to expand our team by adding more full-time attorneys with translation experience. As one can imagine, this is more difficult than relying on anonymous freelancers as done by many large translation agencies. But we do so because the best Hebrew and English legal translation can only be accomplished by a team of seasoned translators with the legal knowledge needed to ensure the clarity, quality, and accuracy of the translation.

Likewise, while we are able to service other language combinations as well, we focus our energy on Hebrew and English translations because we believe in the importance of native proficiency and refuse to accept a job unless we are certain that we can execute it perfectly. We do not advertise every possible language combination, but we guarantee that when we say we can do the job, we are saying that it will be done right the first time.

Most of all, this vision stems from our recognition that LinguistIt is not just part of the Language Service industry but must strive to be part of the legal community as well. Our blog is going to be evolving to meet that vision. Therefore, over the upcoming weeks and months, we will continue to use the blog as means to examine elements of translation and legal translation. While doing so, we will also be expanding it to cover topics of interest in the English and Hebrew speaking legal communities. This reflects our firm belief that LinguistIt is not only a translation service but a member of the constellation of the larger Israeli legal community.

Follow us on Facebook and Linkedin for daily updates on the world legal translation, international and Israeli law.

“Next Practices” After 3,000 Years: The Coming Revolution in Legal Translation

Legal translation is nearly as old as law itself. As one can imagine, a field so old as to be attested to by versions of the Egyptian-Hittite Peace Treaty of 1271 B.C. preserved in Akkadian cuneiform on clay tablets and in Egyptian hieroglyphics can be pretty slow to evolve, particularly in the region that birthed it. The standard amongst Israeli law firms has long been to use bilingual articulated clerks or young lawyers fresh out of school to do the job of translating legal documents. This system has become one of the entrenched “best practices” in the Israeli legal community. But it is time to disrupt this system with “next practices” – the outsourcing the translation and proofreading of contracts, pleadings, etc. to teams of skilled and expert legal translators.

The Hittite Version of the Treaty of Kadesh (on display at Istanbul Archaeology Museums)

The Hittite Version of the Treaty of Kadesh (on display at Istanbul Archaeology Museums)

While the “best practice” places the value on keeping work in-house, the “next practice” of utilizing expert legal translation firms guarantees the highest quality, as it puts the task in the hands of experts with years of experience. Over the next few weeks, we will explore why this “next practice” is rightfully the future of the industry. This week will focus on the value of expertise and keeping translations error-free.

Mistakes in the translation of legal documents are remarkably costly and have led to international disputes (such as the case with the bungled translation of the Treaty of Waitangi) and in criminal cases has led to the dismissal of charges, mistrials and even false convictions. In torts, contract, and corporate law, mistranslation has cost corporations hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties, lawsuits, and legal fees. Using the right team of legal translators like the firm I work with LinguistIt who only uses experienced with legal backgrounds makes sure those mistakes don’t happen.

The reason that even your most fluently bilingual interns, young lawyers, or clerks are more mistake-prone is because they are trained and are supposed to be training to be lawyers, and have not received special education in legal translation.  Even a natural inclination for translation cannot replace the experience of translating documents for years. After all, by the time they become proficient or have enough experience to do a great job,  they will likely no longer be interns, young lawyers, or clerks, and a new batch of rookies will begin. This lack of experience by even the most gifted bilingual lawyers often leads to embarrassing and costly mistakes.

The Hieroglyphic text of the treaty inscribed on a temple wall in Karnak.

The Hieroglyphic text of the treaty inscribed on a temple wall in Karnak.

Indeed, the “next practice” is built on the understanding that there is a difference between a bilingual person who was educated in law and lawyers who focus on translating legal documents (such as at LinguistIt, where our team is made up and supervised by lawyers who have practiced law before specializing in translation). Legal translators need to quickly navigate not only legalese in two languages but make sure that the documents are readable and understandable, while retaining their intended meaning. Skill is required to recognize the reality that “every translation is an interpretation,” while at the same time making sure that linguistic interpretation does not deviate from the intentions of the original source. Being able to deftly navigate these consideration and save you, your business, or your firm from embarrassment or worse – requires great legal translation skills. And like in sports, these skills are the admixture of a discernible amount of talent, a deep knowledge of the fundamentals, and lots and lots of practice and experience. Put simply: with a major client, a big deal or a pending lawsuit – you want to have the advantage, so stop using the “best practices” and use the “next practice,” and call in the experts.

Next week, we will explore how LinguistIt not only presents an alternative to in-house translation but is also disrupting orthodoxies of the giant catch-all freelance translation agencies by employing lawyers who are also experienced translators. This allows them to ensure that their work is useful, accurate and customized to your needs. We will explain how moving from “best practices” to “next practices” will save your company or the lawyers in your firm aggravation and time that could otherwise be concentrated on your clients and your business.

Ever Heard of a ‘Backronym’?

Everyone knows what acronyms are – they’re everywhere! Acronyms make up some of the most famous ‘words’ in the English language, and in Hebrew? Well, forget about it – it’s nearly impossible to string together a sentence in conversational Hebrew without throwing in an acronym or two. #tash

But have you ever heard of backronyms? Yes, that’s a real thing and it’s about to blow your mind.

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Acronyms such as NASA or NATO are words that were created based on a pre-exiting phrase or title. We didn’t make up the word nasa and then create a space program with the same name. NASA is the egg, not the chicken. Or, wait… which one comes first?

Anyway… backronyms are acronyms that were created for a specific set of words or phrasing. For example, “GROSS” – which is of course already an English word, but when it came to Calvin and Hobbes, this word is a backronym of Get Rid Of Slimy girlS.

Now that you’re familiar with the term, let’s see a few more backronyms that we use all the time.

  1. The USA PATRIOT Act. – “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act”

That’s right – even the USA in this Act is an acronym… Who knew?

  1. SPECTRE – “Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion”

In honor of the newest James Bond film featuring major crime syndicate SPECTRE, we would like you to know that this too is a backronym.

Spectre

 

  1. SOS – “Save our Ship!” (or Souls)

It’s pretty simple when you think about it – to have an internationally known distress code be a straightforward cry for help. SOS also happens to be very quick when being sent in Morse code.

  1. AMBER Alert – “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response”

Back in 1996, Amber Hagerman was kidnapped in Texas and this event spawned the creation of this backronym that is now widely used in kidnapping events or scares.

  1. POSH – “Port Outbound, Starboard Home”

Sorry to all those who refer to others as posh, but the origin of this backronym is not that cool. It traces back (allegedly) to boat passengers traveling from England to India who wished to have the better cabins on the boat – which would be on the port side when they left and the starboard side on the way home.

Translation Innovation From Microsoft

Translation is manual. There’s no way around it – you need to convert the text of one language into another by translating the words. Whether you use a translation software or not, it’s going to take some time. Globalization is a great ideal for the translation industry but the lack of instantaneous output is a bit of an issue.

Pretty cool, huh?

Pretty cool, huh?

There is good news, though, as Microsoft is looking to solve the lack of automation in translation with it’s newest add-on to Skype, known as Skype Translator. The program is simple – you’re engaged in a video call and speak normally, and your speech text is translated by the system and played for the person on the other end. Say hello and they hear bonjour.

Simply put, Skype Translator is a pretty big deal. With as small as the world has become, many people find themselves far away and looking to interact with their family back home – family that may not speak the same language as you do but still wants to set up a video call. Skype Translator solves that issue.

Are you looking to meet with a potential client from another country? Well, now the language barrier no longer exists.

The best part of the new program is really the program itself. Skype Translator continues to grow and improve the more people use it as each statement or sound bite from either side is stored in Skype’s database and is used to find the best translation for that conversation and further communication using the same languages.

Have a look at how the Skype Translator platform works, from the team behind the technology:

 

Without a doubt, the Skype Translator is far from perfect, but the innovation behind the project is excellent and will definitely help boost the push towards more optimized translation and an even smaller world of business.

Kickstarter Campaign Expands Scope of Translation

Translation from language to another comes in many shapes and forms and sometimes can be used in ways that could only work in the year 2015. One man has created a (successful) Kickstarter campaign to fund the translation of literary classic Moby Dick, and that would be completely normal and rather uninteresting if the target language for the translation included actual words. On the contrary, this campaign is turning Ishmael’s battle on the high seas into an emoji-filled adventure.

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‘Emoji Dick’. All 6,438 sentences of one of the greatest books of all time have officially been translated into emojis and compiled into one serious looking book. The creator of this campaign, Fred Benenson, hired people off of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk freelance program and these workers spent nearly 4 million seconds (more than 1,000 hours) to produce such an incredible work.

What makes this story so interesting – besides the fact that it’s Moby Dick in emojis, which is awesome – is how Benenson’s campaign expanded the horizons of the translation world. Translating a literary text is no longer limited to the confines of source language into target language but rather from one form of communication into another.

The year 2015 is all about memes, selfies, emojis; essentially expression of one’s self beyond words. Emoji Dick represents that – the ability to enjoy such an incredible part of culture and literature through a fun and expressive millennial form of text. I think it’s great.

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Can you read Moby Dick using only emojis?

In fact, Benenson could be onto something. Could translating books into emojis help children read heavier stories at an earlier age? Would the pictures and intuitive creativity of full sentences expressed in several images create smarter minds? It’s definitely possible, and this could be the beginning of an entirely new trend in literature and translation.

The Impact of Bad Translation

For those of us who are multi-lingual, our mother tongue still greatly influences how we interpret things or present them in any other languages spoken.

If we are not careful or do not receive specialized knowledge, it is so easy to make assumptions based on our own culture or language, including rote translations that don’t take into account the other culture, attitudes and expressions. Oftentimes these seemingly small or insignificant assumptions can make or break a legal case or a business deal.

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When you add in the difference between legal systems, even when a word is technically translated correctly, the concept can vary significantly from one legal system to another to the point of derailing a case or transaction. Furthermore, since the accuracy of a legal document often depends on syntax and careful word selection, things cannot simply be translated by anyone who knows the language.

Even when a business deal is made between individuals of two different nationalities, the expectations upon closing could mean very different things. One theoretical example is given regarding a real estate deal between a US national and an Italian national that portrays a difference in the understanding of notaries and public instruments. If only the translating lawyer knew this, it would have saved the theoretical individuals involved a great deal of headache.

In an actual case from a few years ago, Canadian Supreme Court Justice Anthony Hill had to declare a mistrial as a result of a court interpreter mistranslating a number of texts, including translating “sexual assault” as “physical assault” and “two days” as a “couple of weeks.” These errors were deemed sufficient for the entire case against Hindi-speaking defendant Vishnu Dutt Sharma to be jeopardized.

Additionally, having a good legal translator likely made the difference between winning and losing in a case between shoemaker Christian Louboutin and fashion house Yves Saint-Laurent. Louboutin won the case after hiring very proficient legal translators who had experience with many international legal cases.

These are only a few examples, with many others existing around the world. When you are dealing with international legal cases or business deals involving not only individuals who speak different languages, but also very different legal and financial procedures, it is best to err on the side of caution so that you don’t lose a great deal of time and money.

More Than Just Translation

When court cases become multi-lingual, the need for a translator quickly becomes apparent to everyone. What is often less obvious, to the detriment of all involved, is the need for a specialized translator with legal experience.

Legal language is difficult to comprehend in one single tongue, let alone attempting to translate from one language to another! A lack of legal knowledge or experience can result in lengthy delays and even in massive mistakes or misunderstandings.

One example of this can be seen in an ongoing case in Ohio involving defendants accused of human trafficking and enslaving women for sex. This would be complicated enough without the extra dimension added by the fact that the defendants do not speak any English! Now, this case is expected to drag out for up to two weeks and be much less clear as a result of inexperienced translators dealing with complex legal jargon.

Such examples abound. One study looked at the effect of bad translation and inconsistencies between the English and French versions of a convention involving liability of airlines for death or injury to passengers and baggage losses.  Apparently, this has led to the dismissal of legitimate claims.

How much more this must happen within court cases, when there is pressure for a quick translation. If the person is not comfortable with legal terminology, it could greatly impact the understanding of the case by the main parties involved.

It is clear from these examples that simply hiring a translator will not suffice, especially for complex legal matters. A legal translator is more than simply a translator.

Language and Cultural Behaviors

Language is undoubtedly one of the most crucial elements of a society and, when mastered and used well, can also be a powerful agent to move that society towards change or progress. But could language actually shape the culture and how people think or behave? How much influence does our mother tongue have on what we see as normative behaviors and even on how we think and prioritize?

Many people who have learned other languages fluently report behaving and thinking differently in the other tongue; however, they often attribute the change to culture. While it could very well be a “chicken and the egg” argument, some researchers claim, on the other hand, that it may be the language itself that creates the behavior and, therefore, the culture.

For instance, one classic and controversial proponent of this idea was Benjamin Whorf, a linguist who studied the languages of the native peoples in the Americas and argued that because these languages lacked certain elements, such as the flow of time, their cultures had a completely different perception of reality and set of behaviors. Whorf took his research to an extreme, claiming that one’s mother tongue prevents a person from even grasping things that the language has no word for. This is obviously not the case, as seen by people who gain fluency in other languages. But it may speak volumes about the lens we see the world through and how we unconsciously prioritize concepts.

So, using Hebrew and English as an example, there are certain concepts given a word for which there is no word in English and vice-versa. The term “dafka,” translates closest to “in spite of” or similar to saying “of all things,” such as if you were to say, “Of all places, dafka, she chose to come here.” English speakers understand the idea a bit but we place much less priority on it than a Hebrew speaker. Another example would be the Hebrew word, “tachles,” which means “to the point and without formalities.” Tachles and dafka are two very important elements of Israeli culture that seep into Israelis’ behavior on a daily basis.

On the other hand, there are some English words that have no Hebrew equivalent. There is no Hebrew word for “coincidence,” for example-a concept that English speakers take for granted!

Anna Wierzbicka describes such words as “key concepts” or “key words” that reflect core elements of a culture. Guy Deutscher also illustrates this concept while focusing especially on color and the words for different colors, with a special look at the history of the color blue, in his Through the Language Glass.

While much more could be discussed on the subject, it does leave a few questions: How many concepts that we see as great priorities are a result of language? How much of our behavior is actually shaped by our language and its emphases? What happens when one becomes fluent in multiple languages? Does this broaden not only language skills but also one’s concept of the world and reality?