One of the major difficulties of learning legal language is that so many terms have one meaning in everyday usage, but may mean something radically different in legal contexts. And sometimes the same word may have several different legal meanings, depending on the practice area in which it is used. Linguists may describe such terms as “polysemous,” and they are certainly present in abundance in both legal Spanish and legal English. Under “Multiple Meanings” I offer a sampling of expressions that I believe are likely to give rise to miscues in legal translation. Logically, the focus is on usage in legal contexts, and their nonlegal meanings have generally been excluded.
“Draft” is used with several different meanings in legal language. As a verb “to draft” means redactar, and is a synonym of “to draw up,” as in “to draft (or) draw up a contract.” In that regard, reference to a “draft version” of a document may describe a borrador or versión inicial. In other respects, in parliamentary practice a “draft bill” is an anteproyecto de ley, a precursor to a “legislative bill” (proyecto de ley) to be submitted to parliament or to a legislative assembly for approval. And in the context of negotiable instruments (títulos valores), “draft” is often used in the US as a synonym for “bill of exchange” denoting a letra de cambio.