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History of legal translation

Legal translation has existed for centuries and professional translators have been providing legal translation services all through this period. In history there are several documented and prominent legal texts that were translated in various languages. Some of the oldest legal texts to be translated were:

a. The Egyptian-Hittite peace treaty of 1259 B.C.

b. Corpus Juris Civilis.


The treaty of Kadesh or the Egyptian-Hittite peace treaty

The Treaty of Kadesh, was drawn in the year 1259 B.C., with the intent to establish peace and brotherhood between two strong empires of the Near Eastern world, Egypt and Hittite. Also known as The Eternal Treaty or The Silver Treaty it is regarded as the first ever documented record of legal translation. It was originally written in the Akkadian language by the Hittites, inscribed on a silver tablet and sent to Egypt for consideration, where it was translated into Egyptian language. This original Akkadian version now appears on the entrance gates of the Security Council Chamber of United Nations in New York.

The events which led to this peace treaty began many years before the treaty was ratified. In around second half of the 14th century B.C. Mitannis another great power of the near eastern world ruled the regions of Northern Mesopotamia, northern Syria and parts of eastern Anatolia. They had ruled these regions for two hundred years, from 1500 to 1300 B.C.

However during second half of the 14th century Suppiluliuma, a supreme warlord of Hittites attacked and defeated the Mitannis, thereby extending the Hittite empire and bringing it to the frontiers of Egypt, particularly next to the Southern Syria and Palestine region.

In between the territories of Egypt and Hittie stood two important states, Amurru and Kadesh. Though the rulers of Amurru had pledged their continued allegiance to the then pharaoh of Egypt, Akhenaten, however one of the rulers, Aziru, slipped and secretly pledged his allegiance to Suppiluliuma.

Soon thereafter both these states that stood in between the empires came under contention. For years to come the great empires of Egypt and Hittite were on war with each other. During this duration the contended states changed hands more than once, but a decisive battle was fought in between the two great empires in Kadesh, in the year 1271 B.C. Muwattalli, the then king of Hittite won the battle of Kadesh.

However things were about to change when Hattusili III succeeded the throne of Hittite and the Assyrian forces started gaining power. Assyrians posed a clear threat to Hittites. Fifteen years after the battle of Kadesh, Hattusili judging the circumstances to be against his empire, thought best to draw a peace treaty with the great king of Egypt, Ramasses.

Corpus Juris Civilis

Corpus Juris Civilis was written in between 529 to 534 on the orders of the Eastern Roman Emperor, Justinian I. A fundamental work in Jurisprudence, this work is also known as the Code of Justinian.

It was translated into French, German, Italian, and Spanish in 19th century. In 1932 Samuel Parsons Scott translated the Corpus Juris Civilis into English and published his own version by the name The Civil Law.

Challenges and future of legal translation

Extensive globalization in the last few decades has led to a dramatic increase in the requirement of quality legal translators. However time and again, poor legal translations have proved to be much more costly than was expected.

Translating a legal document is far more complicated than translating other common documents of regular nature, partly due to the purpose of translation, which in most cases is closely related to administrative works, partly due to the complicated nature of legal language itself and partly due to the strong culture bridging skills expected from a legal translator.

Therefore besides having a strong experience of translating documents from the source language to the target language, a legal translator is expected to do extensive research on the specific legal topic and fill up any gaps in their translation by extensive revising, proofreading and editing the target document before final delivery.

It is true that legal translation is a rare skill possessed by few and the translation community acknowledges this fact. The requirement that a legal translator should be brilliant in both the fields of law and translation has been pointed out and well taken into consideration. With new translation training programs aimed at specifically producing skilled legal translators the gaps between demand and supply of highly skilled legal translators is slowly filling up.

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QUALITY TRANSLATIONS


Our team comprises both professional in-house and freelance linguists all of whom have expert accreditation and are well trained and highly skilled.

FAST TURNAROUND


As a leading global supplier of translation services, our expertise and ability to provide a fast, high quality response is in high demand around the world.

COMPETITIVE PRICES


Our range of services is as comprehensive as our expertise in providing fast, efficient, tailor-made translation services for the UK and international markets.


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We've worked with Universal Language Solutions on a number of web projects for the last few years now and have no hesitation in recommending them to supply fast and accurate translations across multi-languages. Offering a friendly and professional service they are a pleasure to work with.

Michael Lopatis, Senior Store Manager, Universal Music (Digital Stores)

We have used ULS for a quick, easy and cost effective translation service. International request's from our customers for detailed information on our brands are no longer an issue using the ULS translators - highly recommended!

John Paterson, General Manager, drpawpaw.com

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