Translating Official Documents: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Translating Official Documents

1st Edition

By Roberto Mayoral Asensio


158 pages

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Official translations are generally documents that serve as legally valid instruments. They include anything from certificates of birth, death or marriage through to academic transcripts or legal contracts. This field of translation is now as important as it is fraught with difficulties, for it is only in a few areas that the cultural differences are so acute and the consequences of failure so palpable. In a globalizing world, our official institutions increasingly depend on translations of official documents, but little has been done to elaborate the skills and dilemmas involved.

Roberto Mayoral deals with the very practical problems of official translating. He points out the failings of traditional theories in this field and the need for revised concepts such as the virtual document, pragmatic constraints, and risk analysis. He details aspects of the social contexts, ethical norms, translation strategies, different formats, fees, legal formulas, and ways of solving the most frequent problems. Care is taken to address as wide a range of cultural contexts as possible and to stress the active role of the translator.

This book is intended as a teaching text for the classroom, for self-learning, or for professionals who want to reflect on their practice. Activities and exercises are suggested for each chapter, and information is included on professional associations and societies across the globe.


'… an invaluable reference guide for those engaged in translating official documents. … the basics of official translating have never been addressed in such detail.'

Valentin Shevchuk, Perspectives

'… excelente monografía sobre traducción jurada… La claridad con que ha dibujado todos los problemas y sus soluciones es admirable, y ayuda a entender con mayor profundidad la complejidad de una disciplina que sigue tan desdibujada en muchas mentes: la traducción jurada.'

David Valenzuela Gabarrón, Quaderns. Revista de traducció

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Professional practice

2.1 Professional practice around the world

2.2 Features of official translation in different countries and regions

3. Social context

3.1 Participants

3.2 Loyalties

3.3 The translator's ideology

3.4 Across cultural distance

4. Documents

4.1 Types

4.2 Information and functions

5. The Official translator as a jurilinguistic expert

6. Different ways of translating

6.1 Adequacy conditions

6.2 Constraints

6.2.1 Legal norms

6.2.2 Ethical norms: Professional vs. personal

6.2.3 Traditions and customs

6.2.4 Constraints imposed by the client, the initiator or the recipient

6.3 Freedom

7. Common problems and frequent solutions

7.1 Means of expression

7.2 Format and typing conventions

7.2.1 Belonging to the original vs. belonging to the translation

7.2.2 Converting complex formats into paragraph sequences

7.2.3 Text vs. image

7.2.4 Avoiding deception

7.2.5 One source language

7.2.6 Legibility

7.2.7 Understandability

7.2.8 Originality

7.2.9 Other writing conventions

7.2.10 Translating into different formats

7.3 Validity and execution of documents

7.3.1 Signature and seal

7.3.2 Certifying authorities

7.4 Medium

8 On the translation of different documents

8.1 Birth, marriage and death certificates

8.2 Academic transcripts and diplomas

8.3 Agreements and undertakings

9. Sources of information

10. Other professional aspects

10.1 Fees and estimates

10.2 Professional associations

About the Series

Translation Practices Explained

Translation Practices Explained is a series of coursebooks designed to help self-learners and students on translation and interpreting courses. Each volume focuses on a specific aspect of professional translation and interpreting practice, usually corresponding to courses available in translator- and interpreter-training institutions. The authors are practicing translators, interpreters, and/or translator or interpreter trainers. Although specialists, they explain their professional insights in a manner accessible to the wider learning public.

Each volume includes activities and exercises designed to help learners consolidate their knowledge, while updated reading lists and website addresses will also help individual learners gain further insight into the realities of professional practice.

Learn more…

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