In my opinion, the most important resource to be found on the Internet when translating patents are examples. There are many different types of contracts . All contracts fall within the domain of legal documentation, and therefore rely on an abstract tone, legal jargon, and legal conventions. Once you pin down what type of contract you are translating, you can then go find examples on the web that you can learn from and use as guides. Because there is so much business exchange between Japan and the English speaking world, we can even find several examples of bilingual English-Japanese translations for your convenience.
Another important thing to remember when translating contracts is that — above all — contracts are subject to analysis by many different legal minds. Therefore, every word counts, every clause is a condition, and every sentence is a commitment. Not even the definite article ‘the’ can be used without giving full consideration to its relevance and necessity. Two occasions when ‘the’ is absolutely required: when it is the translation for ‘当該’, and when it is the translation for ‘本’, as in ‘本業務’.
Other Considerations for Legal English
- Will versus shall (more…)
- Continual versus continuous (more…)
An Example of an Example
This sample translation from Arusu Corporation is a short and sweet example of a bilingual contract that will be useful for translators.
Also, this example from Eigo Honyaku dot Net is excellent, although I did find that the Japanese translation of the English original contains extra sentences which are not present in the original. My guess is that the client requested that additional information be included, in conformity to the Japanese legal tradition, where it differs from the US legal tradition.
Vince Coleman’s Blogspot is an excellent example of a bilingual translation-oriented blog for the Japanese-English language pair. Unfortunately, Vince appears to have stopped blogging in 2012. In a sense, few blogs are continual as much as they are continuous. Yet even a blog that can’t be continued forever can be a good record of the activity of the time.
Living in Sapporo, starting a family, and pursuing both a writing career and a translation career, Vince made an excellent habit of providing parallel Japanese and English pairs both for his professional examples and for his blog posts. The upshot is that I can reference his work when doing mine. I owe him a beer.
I found Vince’s site while specifically looking for a bilingual example of a Consignment Agreement (委託契約書 ).
Translation as a Writer’s Craft
If you find you are doing more than a little legal translation, you will want to consider a deeper study into the norms of writing legal documents. So I will share with you the Tips for Effective Punctuation in Legal Writing published by Georgetown University. It is short and sweet, which is what every working translator needs.
Japanese Law Translation
Lastly, I would like to point you to an invaluable resource for any type of legal translation. Japanese Law Translation is a website Ministry of Justice, Japan, that contains three major bilingual legal translation databases, plus other resources. For my purposes, I got a great deal of use out of the Keyword Context Search , which I found particularly useful for pinning down the preferred legal renderings of conjuctions, such as ‘concerning’, ‘in relation to’, and the almighty ‘and’.