JDE Global

All About Communication!

Being conversationally fluent in two languages is a great thing when you want to chat with your new neighbor whose first language is your second language, but it doesn't mean that you can take on legal translation work when the need arises. Both books and movies have told the stories of real and fictitious scenarios made worse due to a linguistic oversight.

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A recent FT post found that 1/4 of UK companies operating internationally or those planning to do so have lost business. Why? Because employees do not have sufficient foreign language skills. (related post: Tongue-tied UK businesses find foreign trade lost in translation, Sep 23rd 2015)

While most countries are inevitably undergoing international integration in the globalization process, one has to recognize the role that cultural/linguistic differences plays and will continue to play in the foreseeable future.

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Naysayers have warned about the possibility of technology taking over and eliminating all sorts of jobs, including translators. While it would be easy to jump on the bandwagon and agree with them to some degree, it's important to remember that there is no substitute for the human brain. While technology can be made to work faster than us, it doesn't have the ability to think and process information like a human might. It can be programmed to translate documents, remember frequently used translations and optimize data management, but it's unlikely to be 100% accurate all of the time. 

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From the 1980s when the localization industry was still in its infancy, till now at a time of perfect competition, localization vendor management (VM) has been evolving. As more companies focus on their core competencies and outsource their localization activities, localization vendor management has become more important than ever.

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Legal translation is arguably the most complicated and most important of all types of translation. Mistranslation of a single word or sentence always imposes material impact on court judgement. In Hong Kong, it used to be the non-Chinese who served as judges back in the 20th century. As non-Chinese speakers, they had to rely on translated versions for perusal of documentary evidence. Therefore, translation was always the critical factor which affected court judgement. A case is provided below as an example:

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