Navigating the Labyrinth of Hebrew Contracts

Brocha Speyer, a specialist in legal translations, shares with us some very helpful insight into the importance of obtaining high quality legal translations of your rental lease or purchase contract. Below is an excerpt. Please visit our Helpful Knowledge and Insights page for the rest of the story.

Navigating the Labyrinth of Hebrew Contracts

Or: the Role of the Legal Translation Specialist

Contrary to popular belief, speaking two languages is not synonymous with inborn translation prowess. Translation of any sort is a complex task, and legal translation presents its own unique set of challenges.

Take the Hebrew word ishur for example. It is an integral component of any legal document and could mean anything from confirmation, endorsement, approval, okay, sanction, verification, and imprimatur, to acknowledgment, averment, certificate, certification or authorization. So… is the contract’s Party A expected to obtain acknowledgement, approval or confirmation? The list of possible translations does share a common thread – yes, but I do not recommend using the word “sanction” where it should be “certificate.” Translators had better have a thorough understanding of the subject matter at hand if they are to consistently opt for the right word at the right time.

Now think of the Hebrew word lezakot. The dictionary offers a nice list of possible translations – to acquit, to grant (right, privilege, favor etc.), to credit, and to provide. So when a legal translator is confronted with the unfamiliar term “dira mezaka” – what sort of apartment should come to mind? An apartment that sits in judgment and rules clemently, perhaps? One that grants favors to anyone fortunate enough to cross its threshold? Or maybe it’s an apartment that sells you things on credit. How is the innocent translator to guess that it is not a bewitched dwelling the contract is referring to, but merely a tax-exempt one?  You’ve gotta know the lingo.


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