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In addition, Canadian nationals may require translation services in languages other than English and French. For example, a growing number of Canadians are opting to marry abroad e. Upon their return to Canada, the marriage certificates need to be translated into English or French, and certified. Similarly, Canadian nationals requiring medical treatment while traveling abroad need to have medical reports translated for their family physicians, and for insurance coverage, once they return to Canada.
Among these, the language in greatest demand is Spanish An example of this gap is that, in Canada, to the best of my knowledge, no practical courses are offered to train translators to learn how to translate documents for immigrants, although this type of training is included in the curriculum of some European universities e.
In addition, because these documents differ from culture to culture, I have integrated examples from a range of Spanish-speaking countries, including Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and Cuba. Unfortunately, official translation is not always well circumscribed.
As pointed out by Roberto Mayoral Ascencio 1 , it overlaps with fields such as oral translation, legal translation, court translating and interpreting, and community interpreting. These may include birth, death, marriage or divorce certificates, academic transcripts, and legal documents. This specialized field of translation is as important as it is fraught with difficulties, for only in few fields are cultural differences so acute and the consequences of errors so palpable.
In a globalizing world, and in the increasingly smaller world we live in, official institutions increasingly depend on translations of official documents, and yet relatively little is being done to develop the necessary skills and tools to help translators working in this field. As pointed out by Zaro and Truman 77 , the language used in legal and official documents in Spanish and English has some common characteristics: it is highly stereotypical, conventionalized and conservative in nature, with a high proportion of set formulae.
In addition, it retains morphological, syntactical and lexical features that are no longer used in other types of texts:. The main aim of this style of language is to make very specific and precise statements, and to avoid wherever possible connotations and ambiguities, to such an extent that it frequently becomes reiterative and repetitive. Nevertheless, there are significant differences in terms of cultural contexts. The countries of Latin America and of continental Europe including Spain have legal systems based on Roman Law, whereas those of most of the English-speaking countries including the English-speaking provinces of Canada are based on Common Law.
Actual Cuban certificate that has been officially translated in Cuba
A good example of such cultural differences becomes apparent in the following divorce decree, issued in Mexico. Given the differences between legal systems, the translator often has to resort to adaptation and is obliged to convey the message by replacing cultural elements in the source language with their nearest equivalents in the target language. Zaro and Truman 77 emphasize that legal translation represents something of a compromise.
Translators usually strive to achieve acceptability in both the target language and the cultural references that it contains, especially in official translations, which have a clearly defined role to play in legal processes. One fact that makes life easier for the translators is the constant repetition of set formulae and text types, which can facilitate the translation process assuming, of course, that the translator has acquired the experience and knowledge to deal confidently with the specialized terminology.
This constant repetition of formulae and text types might lead translators to wonder whether Translation Memory tools could be helpful for the translation of official documents. A useful innovation in the theory and practice of specialized translation is the concept of genre. A shared communicative function expressed by means of the same performative verb. For example, all injunctions are in the form of orders that must be strictly complied with, whether they involve performing an act or refraining from a specific action; this peremptory nature of the order is thus built into the text in the form of a warning as to the consequences of non-compliance.
A similar macrostructure, i. For instance, all judgements are arranged into a minimum of three basic sections: facts as found, relevant law, and decision or ruling. A similar discursive mode of developing the macrostructure narrative, descriptive, imperative, optative and similar discourse techniques aimed at satisfying the discourse expectations of the recipient or addressee.
A common lexical and syntactic arrangement of the material and a common set of functional units and formal features, e. Common socio-pragmatic conventions, e. The identification of genres is useful for translators since it helps them focus on the particular needs and functions being catered to in the original document, and to look further and deeper into the nature of the particular texts they are dealing with, such as issues of lexical equivalence polysemy, synonymity , syntactic equivalence nominalization, passivity, modality, word order or stylistic equivalence solemnity, formality, figures of speech and other rhetorical devices, severity or asperity of tone in oral utterances, and so on.
A good example of a highly conventional genre is the university degree or diploma. Appendix A includes a typical Cuban university diploma and Appendix B, a Peruvian high-school transcript. A brief look at the standard layout of English and Spanish examples shows a striking similarity of macrostructure, which may be brought under the following heads:. In many situations, a certificate must look like a certificate in order to be accepted as such, and all efforts must be made to have the translation resemble the original. On more than one occasion, I have spent more time on formatting a template than on the actual translation!
Two examples of birth certificates are provided, namely one from Cuba Appendix C and the other, from Mexico Appendix D , to highlight the difference in the amount of detailed information provided in the Mexican birth certificate, compared to the Cuban certificate. To facilitate matters for Immigration Canada, I provide my clients with two documents: the verbatim translation of the original birth certificate and a selective translation of the birth certificate, Appendix E , a format used at the Translation Bureau in Ottawa.
Three samples of marriage certificates are included in the Appendices: one from the Dominican Republic Appendix F , one from Peru Appendix G , and one from Mexico Appendix H , once again to showcase the significant differences between the amount of information required, as well as the different formatting demands required in each case.
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Since a growing number of young Canadians are opting to marry in exotic locations such as Cuba or the Dominican Republic, a sample of a Dominican marriage certificate is provided in the Appendix. Two other examples include a marriage certificate from Peru and one from the State of Puebla, Mexico. Appendix I is a selective translation of a marriage certificate, containing the most important data as far as Canadian immigration authorities and lawyers are concerned.
Templating as a Strategy for Translating Official… – Meta – Érudit
In the sample provided here in Appendix J, only the essential information and the court decision are listed. Most divorce certificates normally contain significantly more details on childcare and alimony. Appendix K is a sample of a death certificate from the state of Veracruz, Mexico. Fortunately, I am pleased to report that over a ten-year period, I have managed to need to create only three such templates. Appendix L is a police-clearance certificate from Spain. Such criminal-record checks are commonly required when immigrants apply for landed-immigrant status in Canada. They do an amazing job with translations and are quick to reply.
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