Terminology Sources: An Overview of English Law

uk parliament-2

The “In Brief” legal resource website is a must for translators, interpreters and legal professionals who need to acquire a working knowledge of the law of England and Wales in many of the major legal disciplines. It describes itself as a “growing legal resource providing information on a variety of legal issues” that “aims to be the largest source of legal material of its kind anywhere on the Internet.” This may appear to be somewhat of an exaggeration, but the information provided does indeed cover an extensive range of legal topics, including

  • Agricultural Law
  • Animal Law
  • Business Finance
  • Charity Law
  • Child Law
  • Civil Court
  • Claim Preparation
  • Clinical Negligence
  • Company Law
  • Consumer Law
  • Contract Law
  • Court Judgements
  • Court Proceedings
  • Discrimination Law
  • Divorce Law
  • Employees
  • Employers
  • Estate Law
  • Football Law
  • Human Rights
  • Immigration Law
  • Intellectual Property
  • Land Law
  • Legal System
  • Marriage Law
  • Media Law
  • Motoring Law
  • Offences
  • Personal Finance
  • Personal Injury
  • Police
  • Preparing For Trial
  • Property Law
  • Regulations
  • Sales Law
  • Sports Law
  • Types of Claim

Explore more here: https://www.inbrief.co.uk/

An Historical Introduction to Legal English

ancient cloudy daylight england

The personal website of the American medievalist and Latin scholar Daniel Williman contains an outstanding work on legal English: “Legal Terminology: An Historical Introduction to the Technical Language of the Law.” For each area of law Professor Williman provides historical background, followed by related terminology and definitions. First published in book form by the University of Toronto Press in 1986, a glance at the Table of Contents of this work shows just how complete this overview is:

  1. Language and European History
  2. Legal History and Legal Terminology
  3. Litigation, Pleading and Trial
  4. History I: Roman Civil Law
  5. Contracts and Debts
  6. Judgement and Enforcement
  7. History II: Canon Law and Jus Commune
  8. Wills and Estates
  9. Penal Law
  10. History III: Germanic and French Custom, Feudal Law, Law French
  11. Domestic Relations
  12. Crime
  13. Documents, Instruments, and the Record
  14. History IV: English Common Law
  15. Real Property
  16. Criminal Procedure
  17. Equity
  18. Commercial Law
  19. History V: North American Reception of European Law
  20. Logical Argument and Evidence
  21. Torts
  22. Corporation, Partnership, and Securities
  23. Sovereignty and Conflict of Laws

It is possible to browse the work by chapters using the links above, or view it in its entirety (with its Preface, Introduction, References and Index to Latin maxims) here: http://www.corsanoandwilliman.org/latin/work/legalterminology.htm#contents




Terminology Sources: Swimming in the “Alphabet Soup” of European Union Agencies

EU Agencies

As translators we often have to use the official names of EU agencies and their abbreviations, initialisms or acronyms in other languages. Their names are sometimes easily confused and, moreover, to further complicate matters they often appear to be in flux, being amended from time to time to more accurately reflect the agency’s purpose and scope. A prime example is the former Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs)—OHIM) (in Spanish, Oficina de Armonización del Mercado Interior (Marcas, Dibujos y Modelos)—OAMI), located in Alicante, Spain, which as of March, 2016 is now known as the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) (or Oficina de Propiedad Intelectual de la Unión Europea—OPIUE).

Navigating this complicated maze is much simplified by an article published in the May/June, 2016 issue of “puntoycoma: Boletín de los traductores españoles de las instituciones de la Unión Europea” that provides the current (and some possible future) names and abbreviations for dozens of EU agencies in Spanish, English and French. It’s entitled “Las siglas de los organizmos descentralizados de la Unión Europea: situación actual” and is available here:

In addition, the EU Agencies Network maintains a current interactive map with the name, location and link to the website of EU agencies.



Terminology Sources: “Legal Language” by Peter M. Tiersma

For anyone interested in Legal English, Peter Tiersma’s book on “Legal Language” (University of Chicago Press, 2000) is an absolute must. After tracing the origins and development of Legal English (providing sample texts in Anglo-Saxon and Law French), he then examines the nature of legal language as used by both lawyers and in the courtroom. Another remarkable source of information on legal language is the late Professor Tiersma’s webpage, part of which is still maintained and made accessible to the general public by the Loyola Law School of Los Angeles (http://www.languageandlaw.org/).

Terminology Sources: Fundéu

For anyone interested in Legal Spanish (and Spanish language in general), Fundéu (Fundación del Español Urgente) is a must. Since 2005, in this collaborative effort of the Agencia EFE news agency, BBVA (Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria) and the Real Academia Española, Fundéu’s team of journalists, linguists, lexicographers, translators and other language professionals have provided a forum for promoting the correct usage of Spanish in the communications media and everywhere else. As their mission statement indicates, “mediante recomendaciones diarias y respuestas a las consultas que recibimos, pretendemos ser una herramienta que ayude a todos aquellos que utilizan el idioma en su actividad diaria en los medios de comunicación, las redes sociales, las nuevas plataformas digitales…

Terminology Sources: Glossary of Notarial Terms

Spanish-to-English translators are often called upon to translate a variety of notarial documents. An excellent source for understanding the terminology of notarially-recorded instruments and lots of basic Civil Law concepts is the Glosario de Términos Notariales available on the website of Spain’s Consejo General del Notariado at http://glosario.notariado.org/ .

The site also offers a series of folletos informativos covering many of the areas of private law in which notaries intervene: http://www.notariado.org/liferay/web/notariado/folletos-informativos .

And, finally, the Consejo publishes a searchable online magazine Escritura Pública featuring a variety of articles that seek to serve as a punto de encuentro entre este colectivo y el resto de la sociedad: http://www.notariado.org/liferay/web/notariado/publicaciones/publicaciones-periodicas/escritura-publica .



Terminology Sources: Legal Information Institute (LII)

Housed at the Cornell University Law School, the Legal Information Institute has provided open-access legal information from a variety of sources since 1992. Its “Get the Law” section includes the complete texts of the principal US legal documents. including the US Code (compendium of all permanent federal statutes), all of the Federal Rules of Procedure (civil, criminal, appellate, evidence and bankruptcy) and the Uniform Commercial Code, among others. The LII’s “Legal Encyclopedia” features hundreds of entries on business law, constitutional law, criminal law, family law, employment law, money and finances, and many other areas of law. The “Articles” section likewise has hundreds of summaries on a broad variety of legal topics. And under “Español” many of the aspects of US law are presented in Spanish. At the end of the article in Spanish there is a link to the same or similar article in English for those who may want to compare the concepts and terminology presented there in both languages.