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legal translation services for entertainment lawyers

Recently, Hunan Group announced a large financing deal with Lions Gate, a move that became the largest Chinese investment in Hollywood in history. This is likely just the first step in this direction by Chinese companies. More and more companies are hoping to expand worldwide and create a global reach through partnerships, and each of these announcements will come after months of deliberation with lawyers, which will inevitably involve English into Chinese and Chinese into English translation and interpretation services.

The attorney who represented Hunan Group shared some of his experiences with Forbes, noting cultural observations that he thinks will be important for translators and interpreters working with lawyers in similar international deals in the future.

Miscommunication was, not surprisingly, near the top of his list. “Miscommunication can kill deals,” he says, “Particularly if there is an unintended slight.” This is why having a skilled translator is so important. An experienced professional translator will understand nuances and word usage beyond strict translation, and ensure these miscommunications come through in all correspondence and documents and thus not harm any possible deal. Continue reading →

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legal translation services into European languages

We blogged about legal translation services in the context of machine translation.

Foreign language translation services for businesses are becoming more common in smaller, regional dialects, according to a recent article in The Economist magazine. Traditionally, language translation in Europe has focused on the FIGS (French, Italian, German and Spanish). Now, the European Union has 28 members. And this requires all European Union materials to be translated into 24 languages, including Bulgarian and Czech.

Many people assumed that machine-language translation would replace professional human translation. Google developed Google Translate, and Skype, the Internet telephony company, has created a machine translation program for Spanish and English. There are also a host of other companies that have developed machine-language technology. While machine-language translation is a powerful tool, it can only do so much. For instance, it cannot understand deeper cultural and institutional meaning into language translation. On top of that, it is limited to the larger languages around the world.

But, as the Economist article notes, some companies are finding it economically beneficial to translate products into less common languages, even though 90% of online spending takes place in 13 languages. For years, Japanese, Korean and Chinese were the only Asian languages where translation services were available. Now companies are looking to have their marketing documents translated into Vietnamese, Indonesian and other Asia languages. In Africa, it is believed that there are between 1,500 and 2,000 distinct languages.

Companies have found it advantageous to translate packaging inserts into some of the lesser-used languages in Africa. Microsoft has focused on localizing its documents, having even translated some information into Mayan and Luxembourgish.

For these projects, a human foreign language translator with distinct knowledge about each language is required. Many times, the translator is a native speaker of the less common language and has learned French, English, Japanese, or other commonly spoken languages.

Professional foreign language translators bring their cultural experience and understanding of the native language into the process, which can be especially helpful when marketing a product or a legal service in a different language.

The Economist concludes that even with machine translation products, in today’s language-diverse economy, people and companies must increasingly rely on traditional human translation, especially for legal and business matters. A legal contract or marketing brochure is too important to depend on machines. The process may be slower, but the resulting foreign language translation will be more accurate. And it will guarantee that the meaning is correctly conveyed in the foreign language.

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We’ve blogged about multilingual legal translation services in the process of expatriation.   As baby boomers retire, they are looking for options. They want to maintain the standard of living that they enjoyed during their working years, but many were not able to save up enough money for retirement. For some, retiring in a foreign country is an option. The cost of real estate is less and living expenses are lower, affording a higher quality of life for many retirees. As an added bonus, many of the top foreign retirement spots around the world are in warm climates.

According to several retirement organizations, Panama ranks as the most attractive place for Americans to retire. There is something for everyone in the tiny Central American country. It has major cities like Panama City, and more remote areas of the country like Bocas del Toro. A retired American couple can live comfortably in many areas of Panama for $1,500 a month.

Currency is one of top reasons for retiring to Panama. The U.S. dollar is the standard currency of Panama. While Panama does have its own currency, the Balboa, the U.S. dollar has been widely circulated in the country since 1904. Dollars are accepted at most establishments, so there is no reason for retirees to worry about exchange rates or getting stuck with a worthless foreign currency. Given Panama’s low cost of living, a dollar goes farther in Panama. Goods and services often cost half as much as in the United States.

Healthcare is also inexpensive. Many doctors in Panama were trained in the United States. They provide easily accessible and safe healthcare to retirees. In Panama City, there is the Johns Hopkins-affiliated Hospital Punta Pacifica. It has facilities and services similar to those that are available in any metropolitan area in the United States.

To cater to retirees, Panama offers a visa specifically for people who are receiving a pension or Social Security. Called Panama Pensionado Visa, the document is available to anyone who receives at least $1,000 a month pension or retirement benefit. Proper documentation of the payment is required. In order to apply for the visa, a Panamanian lawyer must draft the documents and provide proof of income. Spanish is the official language of Panama, so legal document will require a professional English to Spanish translation. That way the documents can be understood by both the English-speaking Americans and Spanish-speaking Panamanian officials.

If the documents are approved and the retiree is issued a Pensionado Visa, he or she will receive discounts on movie tickets, hospital bills, airline tickets, and phone and electric utilities. The visa also gives retirees the same rights as any citizen of the country.

Good deals are available on real estate in Panama. The country offers high-rise condominiums in Panama City and beach cottages along the sea. Buying real state in Panama is not complicated, because there are laws aimed at protecting foreign investments. Real estate transactions in Panama are fairly similar to real estate transaction in the United States, and involve an offer and acceptance by the buyer. There is then a closing period, which usually lasts around 45 days. Once the purchase is finalized, a title transfer takes place. A title search takes place prior to the sale.

While much of the transaction can be completed in English, legal translation of all Spanish documents is recommended. If a dispute arises between the buyer and the seller, the Panamanian court requires that all documents be translated into Spanish, as Spanish is the language used in the court system.

In addition to the business reasons for retiring to Panama, the Panamanian government, unlike some other countries in Central America, is stable and the country invests significant financial resources in infrastructure. The country has reduced its debt in recent years and has an improved credit rating. It has one of the fastest growing economies in the Western Hemisphere. As a result, real estate prices have remained stable even after the economic collapse in 2008.

 

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Businessmen in conversation

As commerce grows more and more international, language is becoming a central part of lawsuits. While English is the language of business around the world, more and more people speak more than one language or rely on a foreign language translation. This is especially true in legal cases that involve multiple languages and multiple countries. Because China is a major trading partner with the United States, more and more lawsuits in the United States involve Chinese companies – meaning that professional Chinese to English translation services become a very critical issue.

Take, for example, a recent class-action lawsuit that was filed in a US District Court in the Eastern District of New York. The lawsuit was against Chinese manufacturers of vitamin C. According to the lawsuit, several Chinese companies formed a cartel and worked to fix prices by regulating the production levels of vitamin C in China. The lawsuit was filed by a group of companies in the United States that purchased vitamin C from the manufacturers in China.

Language translation was clearly an issue in the lawsuit as all the manufacturing companies were based in China. It was the first time a case in the United States involved Chinese corporate defendants, several of which had limited English skills. The case was so important that the Chinese government filed an amicus curiae, or “friend of the court” brief in the case.

The case was assigned to the US District Judge Brian Cogan through a random process after the first judge in the case died. Cogan speaks fluent Chinese and said from the bench that his Chinese language skills would probably be utilized in the case.

In 2013, the jury awarded the plaintiffs in the case $162 million. Much of the testimony was in Chinese, and the court had to rely on the services of an English-Chinese court interpreter. The case had major implications for foreign companies doing business in the United States. It showed that the US courts had jurisdiction over foreign companies even though all of the price-fixing activity took place in China. It set a precedent that the US courts can become involved when products are sold in the United States.

Cogan agreed with the jury’s judgment and wrote, “The three doctrines upon which defendants rely recognize that a foreign national should not be placed between the rock of its own local law and the hard place of US law. Here, there is no rock and no hard place.”

Several other recent lawsuits have also involved the Chinese language. Eight New York-based writers and video producers filed a lawsuit against the Chinese company Baidu, sometimes called the China’s Google, in the US District Court. It is the fifth most visited website in the world. The lawsuit claimed the company created algorithms that blocked viewers in the US from viewing material that advocated for democracy in China. The blocked material was mostly written or produced in Chinese. The lawsuit claimed that the actions by Baidu violated the Constitution.

The US District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan dismissed the case. He said the search engine was using protected free speech when it created the algorithms. He likened the search engine results to a newspaper editor who makes editorial judgments on which articles to place in the newspaper. The writers and video producers planned to appeal the decision.

The lawsuits pertaining to doing business with China flow both ways. Another lawsuit was recently filed recently in China that involved the use of the Chinese language. The Chinese company Jiangsu Xueba filed a patent lawsuit against the Bay Area giant Apple. The suit claimed the Jiangsu Xueba had already trademarked the term Snow Leopard, the term for Apple’s most recent operating system, in Chinese. The lawsuit sought $80,000 from Apple. The Chinese word for Snow Leopard is Xuebao, but Apple says it planned to only use the English version of the name in its Chinese product marketing materials.

 

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Businessman Handing over Dollar Bills

Legal translation services play an important role in the FCPA enforcement. Clearly, the issue of bribery and the FCPA is a serious manner. To ensure that you and your company are in compliance, it is essential that you understand all the transactions happening with foreign governments. Since doing business in foreign countries typically involves the use of foreign language contracts and regulations, it is necessary to have a foreign language translation of all such documents to ensure no clauses could be a potential violation of the FCPA.

It can be challenging doing business in a foreign country. People there have different customs and languages. A businessperson must negotiate without having many of the established relationships that are often required to do business.

Business representatives in a foreign country are not allowed to bribe public or company officials to win a business contract or favor. In fact, the United States government can prosecute people for doing so under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Enacted in 1977, the law applies to all US citizens or corporations that trade securities in the United States. If convicted, a person can receive either jail time or a fine. In recent years, the US Department of Justice has been more likely to impose a fine rather than jail time.

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human translation is superior to machine translation

Since the early 1950s, human beings have being trying to use machines to translate languages. While these efforts have advanced in recent years, they are no substitute for a human foreign language translator.

One of the earliest attempts was a partnership between Georgetown University and IBM. The researchers tried to develop a language translation program with early generation computers. The system used basic algorithm to make decisions. It had 250 words and six grammar rules and attempted to translate Russian to English.

Despite the early success, computers did not solve many of the subtle problems with language translation. While programmers can easily install the rules of grammar and meaning of words into a computer, they have a hard teaching a computer to understand cultural contexts and idioms. Continue reading →

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Doctors in a meeting

We’ve blogged about the importance of professional medical translation services of consent forms.

The healthcare field is highly regulated. Hospitals, doctors and other healthcare organizations receive guidance from multiple regulatory agencies as well as in-house attorneys. This is done in order to protect both the patient and the healthcare organization.

A key part of healthcare and any medical procedure is informed consent. A person must understand his or her medical options and the potential dangers associated with a medical procedure. The options must be clearly presented to the patient and explained in a way that the patient understands.

Many times, prior to a procedure, the patient signs an informed consent form. The informed consent form is an acknowledgement by the patient that he or she understands the procedure and the potential risks. Attorneys usually draft the language in an informed consent form in order to limit the liability of the medical organization. Continue reading →

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clinical-trial-translation

A need for multilingual professional translation services is on the rise during clinical trials.

In 1951, Henrietta Lacks was admitted to a Baltimore hospital with abdominal pain. She was poor and uneducated. After performing a series of tests on Henrietta, doctors determined that she had cervical cancer and took a tissue sample.

Although Henrietta died of cervical cancer a few months later, her cells from that sample are still living today. Called HeLa cells, the cells have been grown and sold to laboratories all over the world over the last six decades. The cells have been used in 74,000 studies. But Henrietta never gave informed consent. She was illiterate and was never offered the chance to decide if her cells could be used for scientific purposes.

The Lack family threatened to file a lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and several laboratories, but an agreement was reached in 2013. Work based on the study of the HeLa cells could continue, but data about the cells’ genome could not be made publically available. The family was concerned that mapping of the genome could be used against Henrietta’s descendants. Continue reading →

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When a court has evidence before it that prompts the comment “[t]he settlement agreement consists of an English and Spanish version of what hopefully is the same agreement [emphasis added],” it is apparent that the court has a problem with the way at least one of the parties has handled the conveyance of properly translated documents to the other.

In the realm of translation in the legal context, evidence rejected on the basis of inaccurate, questionable, or uncertified translation can be the difference between justice and an unfair result, in some cases even a travesty of justice.

In some cases, the court may allow the parties to cure the deficiencies by having the translated information certified as is, if the original translator is willing and able to do so, or have the inadequacies repaired in another way that is satisfactory to the court. In other cases, the court may decide not to give the parties this option and just exclude the evidence as unreliable.

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We’ve blogged about the need for professional legal translation services during foreign language document review. In the digital age, our electronic footprints are everywhere. We use social media , such as Facebook and Twitter. We send emails. We purchase books, movies and wall art paintings online. Our browser tracks our website history. Needless to say, this has changed the nature of discovery for attorneys. Discovery is no longer limited to depositions, business correspondence on letterhead and contracts in a file. Discovery in the digital age involves searching a large part of the digital landscape.

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