False Friends in ES-EN-ES Translation: violación vs. violation

“Violation” is a common Legal English term denoting the contravention of a right, principle or prohibition, and in this context it can often be rendered literally as violación: “violation of human rights” (violación de los derechos humanos); “violation of international law” (violación del Derecho internacional) or “violation of the proportionality principle” (violación del principio de proporcionalidad).

But, violación cannot always be appropriately translated as “violation,” particularly in criminal law contexts. In that regard, delito de violación is “rape,” while violación de las condiciones de la libertad bajo fianza is commonly known as “bail-jumping,” “bail-skipping” or “jumping/skipping bail.” The generic term violación de secretos denotes “breach of confidentiality” or “disclosure of confidential (or) privileged information,” in contrast to violación de secretos industriales and violación de secretos empresariales that refer more specifically to “disclosure of trade secrets.” When referring to patents or trademarks, violación de patente/marca is best rendered as “patent/trademark infringement.” And violación de domicilio may be translated as “trespass to dwelling.” As a final example, violación de sepulturas is most often referred to in English as “profanation of tombs.”

2 thoughts on “False Friends in ES-EN-ES Translation: violación vs. violation

    • Yes! “Vulneración” is certainly another option. And “contravention of rights” is another (perhaps less common) way of saying “violation” in this context.


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