“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.
Consejo Europeo–European Council
Consejo de Europa–Council of Europe
These institutions are sometimes confused in translation, Consejo Europeo often being mistranslated as “Council of Europe,” rather than as “European Council,” even in academic publications. Examples I have encountered include mistranslating Directiva xxxx/xx CE del Parlamento Europeo y del Consejo Europeo as “EC Directive xxxx/xx of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe,” or rendering the expression “cuando el Consejo Europeo empiece a adoptar medidas en codecisión con el Parlamento…” incorrectly as “when the Council of Europe begins to adopt codecision procedures with the Parliament…”.
Likewise, in the other direction, “Council of Europe” has often been confused with Consejo Europeo when translating, for example, “Council of Europe Committee of Ministers” as Comité de Ministros del Consejo Europeo (rather than Comité de Ministros del Consejo de Europa) or rendering “Publication of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg” as Publicación del Consejo Europeo de Estrasburgo. And an article entitled “The Limited Powers of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe” most likely intended to address the limited powers of the European Parliament and the European Council.
Briefly, the European Council (Consejo Europeo) is an institution of the European Union; the Council of Europe is not. Consejo Europeo and “European Council” refer to the Council of Ministers of the European Union (EU), which currently (pre-Brexit) has 28 member states. In contrast, the “Council of Europe” (Consejo de Europa) is a totally separate international organization located in Strasbourg, France, devoted to working toward European integration and protecting human rights since its founding in 1949. The principal achievement of the Council of Europe (COE) is the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights (not to be confused with the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights). The Council of Europe’s European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rules on applications concerning alleged human rights violations in the 47 Council of Europe member states. All European Union member states are likewise members of the Council of Europe. Negotiations for the EU to accede to the European Convention on Human Rights are ongoing.
The fact that these institutions are often confused, even by legal professionals, has been noted in a research guide on the Council of Europe prepared by librarians at the Duke University Law Library: “Although it has a close relationship with the European Union, the Council of Europe (Conseil de l’Europe, Consejo de Europa, Europarat, Consiglio d’Europa) is not part of the EU. Be especially careful not to confuse it with an EU institution called the European Council (Conseil européen, Consejo Europeo, Europäisher Rat, Consiglio europeo) which is a special meeting of the EU’s Council of Ministers.”