Mistranslations (?) of fondo

“Mistranslations?” includes examples of what I believe may be considered mistranslations that I have encountered over a twenty-five year period while working as a legal translator and teacher of legal English in Spain. Some may be actual mistranslations, while others are perhaps all-too-literal renderings of expressions that may have sufficiently close counterparts (“functional equivalents”) in the other language. Still others are translations that may simply not be accurate in the context in which they originally appeared.


In expressions such as pronunciamiento sobre el fondo, entrar al fondo or sin entrar al fondo, etc., fondo has a very specific meaning in procedural terminology. I have seen fondo in procedural contexts translated as “meollo,” entrar al fondo as “touching upon the core of the matter,” and sin pronunciamiento sobre el fondo as “without getting down to the real issues.” These renderings all fail to recognize that when referring to judicial decisions (resoluciones judiciales) fondo is the Spanish expression for “merits (of the case).” Thus juicio sobre el fondo refers to a “trial on the merits,” while pronunciamiento sobre el fondo denotes a “ruling on the merits.” Likewise, entrar al fondo is “to rule on the merits” and sin entrar a fondo means “without a ruling on the merits.”

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