False friends (27): elegible; eligible

Oh, no! False Friends

Theses look-alikes are truly false friends. In Spanish elegible means que se puede elegir, o tiene capacidad legal para ser elegido (DLE). In English this translates as “electable,” “capable of being elected” or, to use its false cognate, “eligible for election.”

In contrast, in English “eligible” is broader in meaning, referring to “having the right to do or obtain something; satisfying the appropriate conditions” (OED), being a synonym of “being entitled to” or “suitable for.” Thus in Spanish “eligible” may be expressed as con derecho (a); que cumple los requisitos; que reúne las condiciones; autorizado/a, etc., but not as elegible.

Time to Tweet!

Tweeting bird

After publishing 180 entries in this blog on Spanish-English legal terminology (Léxico Jurídico Español-Inglés on WordPress at rebeccajowers.com), at the urging of one of my students I am finally on Twitter (@ES_ENLegalTrans). With this move, I hope to be able to more closely share in the work and ideas of legal translator colleagues, teachers (and students) of Legal English, and the many lawyers and legal professionals out there whose blogs and tweets seek to explain the ins and out of legal terms and concepts to broader audiences. I will (of course!) continue to post entries to this blog in the usual categories:

  • ES-EN legal terminology
  • Legal English for Spanish-speakers
  • False friends
  • Multiple meanings
  • Confusing terms
  • Common words with uncommon legal meanings
  • Expressing civil law concepts in common law terms
  • Español jurídico
  • Latinismos
  • Mistranslations? and
  • Terminology sources

And, in October I will be introducing a new topic: “Weird Words and Cryptic Concepts,” to examine some of the obscure terminology that lawyers and judges seem to use just to keep legal translators in their toes!

If it’s Spanish, why does it look like German?

If it's Spanish, why does it look like German_

This has been bothering me for quite a while: I receive texts to translate from my Spanish lawyer clients and so many of the nouns are capitalized, that I think I’m reading a text in German! It doesn’t matter whether they are court pleadings or corporate documents, and this idiosyncrasy of legal Spanish is also widely present in many manuales de Derecho.

Legal Spanish style manuals warn against this practice. The Libros de estilo of both the Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Madrid* and the Centro de Estudios Garrigues** contain the following paragraph:

A pesar de que la costumbre o el deseo de enfatizar determinados conceptos tueden tentarnos a usar las mayúsculas, se escriben con inicial minúscula las siguientes palabras: acta, acuerdo administrador, balance, capítulo, comunidad autónoma, consejero delegado, contrato, convenio colectivo, departamento, despacho, diputado, director, empresa, entidad, estatutos sociales, gerente, grupo (de sociedades), informe, jefe de personal, jefe de sección, jefe de servicio, juez, junta general, magistrado, memoria, notario, propuesta, protocolo (notarial), sección, senador, sociedad, socio, tomo.

So the question is, should all such terms be capitalized in an English translation when they appear in caps in the Spanish original? Should we consider capitalized terms in Spanish as part of a document’s format (which we generally should try to duplicate when possible) and, for example, render generic uses of Juez as “Judge,” Tribunal or Sala as “Court,” Consejo de Administración as “Board of Directors” and Junta de Accionistas as “Shareholders Meeting”?

I don’t think so. Although such terms, even when used generically, are often capitalized in Spanish (whether this is appropriate or not), capitalizing them in an English translation may not be advisable for two reasons. First, since this is not customary in English, it may prove distracting to the reader. But more importantly, precisely since this is not customary, readers may think that the fact that a term is capitalized gives it a special meaning (such as capitalized terms have in English-language contracts). They may ultimately look for a special meaning in the capitalized terms that they really don’t have.

*Alberto Gómez Font and Francisco Muñoz Guerrero. Libro de Estilo del Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Madrid. Madrid: Marcial Pons, 2007.

** Alberto Gómez Font and María Peña Arsuaga. Libro de Estilo Garrigues. Cizur Menor (Navarra): Editorial Aranzadi, 2006.

It may not mean what you think! Legal meaning of vis-à-vis

The French expression “vis-à-vis” is used in English as a preposition with the meaning con respecto a; con relación a; en relación con, etc., as in “the workers’ position vis-à-vis their employer” (la posición de los trabajadores con respecto a su empleador) or “the value of the pound vis-à-vis the dollar” (el valor de la libra con relación al dólar).

But in Spain in the context of corrections law (Derecho penitenciario) vis-à-vis has a very peculiar meaning, denoting private visits (comunicaciones íntimas) with a spouse or partner afforded prison inmates under certain conditions. Family “vis-à-vis” (comunicaciones familiares and comunicaciones de convivencia) are also possible and encouraged. Read more here.

“Conjugal visit” is the expression most commonly used to describe private visits with prison inmates in the English-speaking jurisdictions in which they are permitted. In the US they are allowed in four states (California, Connecticut, New York and Washington). Read more here.

False Friends (26): adjudicar; adjudicate

Oh, no! False Friends

adjudicar ; adjudicate / adjudicación ; adjudication

These pairs are clearly false cognates. In Spanish adjudicar generally has the meaning of “to award,” “to allocate” or “to allot.” Thus, for example, adjudicar un contrato is “to award a contract,” (not “adjudicate a contract”), while in the context of auctions (subastas) adjudicado al mejor postor may often be rendered simply as “sold to the highest bidder.”

In contrast, in English “to adjudicate” means “to rule upon or settle judicially; to adjudge,” while “adjudication” is “the legal process of resolving a dispute; the process of judicially deciding a case.”* Thus, “to adjudicate” is juzgar, fallar or resolver judicialmente, referring to the final ruling of a court or quasi-judicial body, a sense that adjudicar does not have in Spanish. In that regard, when referring to a judicial decision “adjudication” cannot be translated as adjudicación. “He was adjudicated guilty” means le declararon culpable (or) fue declarado culpable (being synonymous with “convicted” or “found guilty”). “Adjudication on the merits” refers to a court’s resolución sobre el fondo and “to adjudicate disputes” is resolver conflictos (en sede judicial). Likewise, in the context of court proceedings or hearings before quasi-judicial boards or tribunals, “adjudication of claims” might be translated as resolución de pretensiones, resolución de reclamaciones or, perhaps, resolución de demandas, depending on the context. As additional examples, “adjudication of incompetence” refers to a declaración judicial de incapacidad, and a person “adjudicated incompetent” has been judicialmente incapacitada. In summary, “adjudicate (or) adjudication” could not be appropriately rendered as adjudicar (or) adjudicación in any of these expressions.

The same may be said of the verb “to adjudge,” which likewise means “to award, grant or impose judicially.” Thus the expression “Ordered and adjudged” often appearing at the end of a court ruling does not mean Ordenado y adjudicado, as the expression has sometimes been rendered literally, but rather precedes a court’s disposal of a matter in dispute, denoting its “adjudication” (fallo). So, “It is therefore ordered and adjudged…” might actually be rendered as “Se ordena y falla…”.

*Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th ed.

20 Answers (2): Terminology of Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure

20 Questions...(2)

Here are the answers to the 20 Questions on the Terminology of Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure published in a previous blog post:

1) A public official who conducts criminal prosecutions on behalf of his jurisdiction: PROSECUTOR

2) An agreement between two or more persons to engage in a criminal act: CONSPIRACY

3) At common law, the offense of breaking and entering a building with the intent to commit a felony: BURGLARY

4) The judgment in a criminal case imposing a punishment of imprisonment, probation, fine, forfeiture or some other penalty: SENTENCE

5) A rule that prohibits a second trial or punishment for the same offense: DOUBLE JEOPARDY

6) The fraudulent conversion of property with which a person has been entrusted: EMBEZZLEMENT

7) The killing of a human being without premeditation or malice and without legal excuse or justification: MANSLAUGHTER

8) The defense that the accused was elsewhere at the time the crime was committed: ALIBI

9) The act of bringing an accused before a court to answer a criminal charge and to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty: ARRAIGNMENT

10) The criminal offense of obtaining money or other things of value by duress, force, threat of force, fear, or under color of office: EXTORTION

11) The intentional and premeditated killing of a human being: (FIRST-DEGREE) MURDER

12) A sentence that allows a person convicted of a crime to continue to live and work in the community under the supervision of the court: PROBATION

13) The release of a person from incarceration after serving a portion of his/her sentence if certain conditions are met: PAROLE

14) The crime of giving something of value with the intention of influencing the action of a public official, witness, juror, etc: BRIBERY

15) Detention of a person on a criminal charge: ARREST

16) The degree of proof required to convict a person of a crime: BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT

17) The false making, material alteration, or uttering of any writing with the intent to defraud: FORGERY

18) The crime of taking personal property, without consent, with the intent to deprive the owner of it permanently: THEFT

19) A crime not amounting to a felony: MISDEMEANOR

20) The felonious taking of money or something of value from a person against his will, by force or by putting him in fear: ROBBERY

 

20 Questions (2): Terminology of Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure

20 Questions...(1)

This is an exercise that I use with my students of Legal English at the Universidad Carlos III in Madrid. After finishing each unit, we often review dictionary definitions of the legal terms and concepts that we’ve discussed in class to make sure they’re clear. Several students who follow this blog suggested that I might make exercises of this nature available here in the event that they may prove useful to other readers.

This entry concerns some (only a few of the many!) terms and concepts of Criminal Law (Derecho penal) and Criminal Procedure (Derecho Procesal Penal).

Please provide a term for the following definitions (Answers will be published soon in another blog post):

1) A public official who conducts criminal prosecutions on behalf of his jurisdiction:

2) An agreement between two or more persons to engage in a criminal act:

3) At common law, the offense of breaking and entering a building with the intent to commit a felony:

4) The judgment in a criminal case imposing a punishment of imprisonment, probation, fine, forfeiture or some other penalty:

5) A rule that prohibits a second trial or punishment for the same offense:

6) The fraudulent conversion of property with which a person has been entrusted:

7) The killing of a human being without premeditation or malice and without legal excuse or justification:

8) The defense that the accused was elsewhere at the time the crime was committed:

9) The act of bringing an accused before a court to answer a criminal charge and to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty:

10) The criminal offense of obtaining money or other things of value by duress, force, threat of force, fear, or under color of office:

11) The intentional and premeditated killing of a human being:

12) A sentence that allows a person convicted of a crime to continue to live and work in the community under the supervision of the court:

13) The release of a person from incarceration after serving a portion of his sentence if certain conditions are met:

14) The crime of giving something of value with the intention of influencing the action of a public official, witness, juror, etc:

15) Detention of a person on a criminal charge:

16) The degree of proof required to convict a person of a crime:

17) The false making, material alteration, or uttering of any writing with the intent to defraud:

18) The crime of taking personal property, without consent, with the intent to deprive the owner of it permanently:

19) A crime not amounting to a felony:

20) The felonious taking of money or something of value from a person against hiS will, by force or by putting him in fear:

False Friends (25): redactar; redact

Oh, no! False Friends

redacción-redaction; redactar-redact

 In legal contexts in Spanish redacción is most often used in the sense of “drafting” or “drawing up” a document, such as a contract (redacción del contrato; redactar un contrato). But their English language look-alikes “redaction” and “to redact” often have very different meanings. Indeed, although “redaction” has the general meaning of “careful editing”, in many jurisdictions the term refers to editing out, removing or concealing certain sensitive information from documents filed in court and from judicial opinions, such as personal identification (social security or bank account numbers) or the names of victims, minors, etc. before they are made public. Thus in legal contexts it’s probably advisable to reserve “redaction” for this specific meaning, while translating redacción (de documentos, contratos, etc.) as “drafting” or “drawing up.” (In Spanish courts, redacting personal information from judicial decisions is called anonimización.)*

Below is an example of a redacted court document. Most of the essential information has literally been blacked out, making it fairly incomprehensible. An Internet search reveals many articles claiming that extensive redaction is sometimes considered an abusive measure used by the courts or by governmental agencies to conceal information from the public. Also of interest are the many motions to unseal excessively redacted information from judicial records,**as well as rules of court governing the sealing and redacting of court documents.*** Links to an example of  both are provided here:

*http://mentora.es/el-tribunal-constitucional-ampara-la-anonimizacion-en-resoluciones-judiciales/

**https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/documents/cases/2012/01/120109gracomotion.pdf

***https://www.leg.state.nv.us/CourtRules/SCR_RGSRCR.html

https://i0.wp.com/www.timbowerrodriguez.com/wp-content/uploads/photo-gallery/5k-motion-redacted.jpeg

Capsule Vocabularies: 30 EN-ES Competition Law Terms

  • wood-cube-abc-cube-letters-488981-e1536850974730
  • (Basic terms and concepts:)
  • Competition Law (EU); Antitrust Law (US)→Derecho de la Competencia; Derecho de la Libre Competencia
  • defense of competition→defensa de la competencia
  • competition policy→política de la competencia
  • competition rules→normas de competencia
  • anticompetitive practices→prácticas anticompetitivas
  • conduct in restraint of trade→prácticas restrictivas de la competencia
  • concerted practices→prácticas concertadas
  • acts of collusion→prácticas colusorias; conducta colusoria
  • distortion of competition→falseamiento de la libre competencia
  • abuse of dominant position→abuso de posición dominante
  • cartels→cárteles
  • foreclosure of competition→cierre del mercado a competidores potenciales
  • barriers to entry→barreras a la entrada
  • barriers to mobility; mobility barriers→barreras a la movilidad
  • horizontal agreements→acuerdos horizontales
  • vertical agreements→acuerdos verticales
  • production or delivery quota agreements→acuerdos sobre cuotas de producción o entrega
  • market-sharing agreements→acuerdos de reparto de mercado
  • price-fixing agreements→acuerdos de fijación de precios
  • exclusive collective markets→mercados colectivos exclusivos
  • collective boycotting→boicoteo colectivo
  • predatory pricing→imposición de precios predatorios
  • dumping→venta a precios inferiores al coste de producción
  • preemption of production/supply sources; preemption of essential facilities→acaparamiento de fuentes de producción/de aprovisionamiento
  • tied sales→ventas vinculadas
  • full-line forcing→imposición de la obligación de comprar una gama completa de productos
  • resale price maintenance→imposición de precios de reventa
  • refusal to deal/sell→negativa de suministro
  • bid-rigging (in public tenders)→pujas amañadas (en concursos públicos)
  • parallel imports, gray-market imports→importaciones paralelas

Source: Rebecca Jowers. Léxico temático de terminología jurídica español-inglés. Valencia: Tirant lo Blanch, 2015, pp. 935-938.

 

Legal Meanings of “rise”

legal words

The everyday word “rise” is used in at least two different contexts in US courtroom procedure. First, when a judge enters the courtroom, the bailiff or other court official shouts out, “All rise!” to call the court to order and to signal that those present in the courtroom should stand until the judge takes his seat. Standard formulae for commencing court sessions vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but these three are typical:

“Oyez, oyez, oyez.* The Third Circuit Court of the State of New York is now in session, Judge Jones presiding. All rise!”

“All Rise! Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having any business with the Honorable Court of Appeals of Maryland draw near and give your attention. The court is now in session. God save the State and this Honorable Court,” or

“All rise! Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye! The Supreme Court of the Great State of Florida is now in session. All who have cause to plea, draw near, give attention and you shall be heard. God save these United States, the Great State of Florida and this Honorable Court.”

In a second opposite meaning, “rise” is sometimes used in the sense of adjourning a court session (levantar la sesión): “The Court rose at 2:00 pm” (Se levantó la sesión a las 14.00 horas). In this context “rise” can also refer to the final adjournment at the end of a court term (fin del año judicial), prior to summer recess (vacaciones judiciales): “Justice Stevens announced he would be retiring from the US Supreme Court effective one day after the court rises for summer recess.” “Rise” is likewise used with respect to the adjournment of parliamentary sessions: “It is expected that the 3rd reading on this Bill will occur very soon, and the House of Commons will vote on it before they rise for summer recess” (or) “The Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on the penultimate sitting day before the House of Commons rose for summer recess.”

________________________

* As Bryan Garner notes in his Dictionary of Legal Usage (Oxford, 2011, p. 650), “oyez, oyez, oyez” is the cry heard in court to call a courtroom to order when a session begins (“oyez” being the Law French equivalent of “here ye” in the Middle Ages). Quoting Clarence Darrow: “When court opens, the bailiff intones some voodoo singsong words in an ominous voice that carries fear and respect at the opening of the rite.” It is pronounced “oh-yes” or sometimes “oh-yay.”