Saturday, 1 May 2010

translation and the law

Came across a nice article this evening on making the best combined use of MT and human translators in translating for legal purposes. The observation that translations of the same text provided by the two sides in one case might be materially different reminded me of a nice anecdote I came across in a Times account of a trial for obscene libel in 1831. The bookseller George Cannon was prosecuted for supplying a French copy of Sade’s Juliette, and a literal translation into English was presented as evidence by the prosecutors for the book's objectionable content. When one jury member questioned the translator and suggested that there might be some bias in the translation because it had been made for the prosecution, he was allowed to see the two texts side by side. At which point he acknowledged that ‘it is a most literal translation indeed. So much so, that it is worse than the book itself’. :)

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