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Legal Synonyms In Spanish

January 28, 2015 2 Comments »

legal_mattersBeing a Spanish translator/interpreter, coming across a legal interpreting assignment or a legal document to translate is inevitable. Being as I am still a very young individual, I’m aware of the fact that there will be at least one thing that I’ll learn out of each of these assignments. And that’s actually something that excites me and I look forward to, knowing that out of each experience, I will take something with me, something learned, something new.

One of these things that I’ve learned recently in translating a document is that in legal English, once you use a term, you must repeat that term throughout the document you are drafting. If you use a synonym instead, it may be taken to mean something else than the original term you used. In legal Spanish, the rule seems to be just the opposite. Writers of legal Spanish seem to use every synonym they can think of to avoid using the same noun twice. Thus, for example, an Amendment may first be referred to as “Enmienda”. Two lines later, it may be referred to as “Modificación” (which is especially confusing for English readers). A few more lines and you might see it referred to as “Corrección”.

In the course of the document about the Amendment, the writer may refer to it with either one, if not all of these terms. Yet, every one of these expressions should be translated into English as “Amendment.” Why this occurs is something that I have not yet been able to understand, maybe I will, maybe I won’t. But whatever the case, this is by far the most bizarre aspect that I have learned from one of my translating projects.

 

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2 Responses to “Legal Synonyms In Spanish”

  • Commented on February 3, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    This is where the knowledge of culture supersedes one’s knowledge in linguistics. It is good that you were able to spot such difference between English and Spanish legal documents as this can help improve your translation service. Ignoring such detail can either cause you to lose points for professionalism, or make the document you are translating totally unacceptable due to a change in contextual meaning. Your humility as a budding professional translator has enabled you to see the difference, and this is certainly a good thing to help you hone and improve your skills more. Keep it up.

  • Marcela
    Commented on February 22, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Muy interesante la cuestión del post. Cuando aprendí redacción, la profesora se cansaba de repetir que tenemos que tratar de evitar el uso de palabras iguales en un mismo párrafo para que no suene redundante. Es por eso, creo yo, que al escribir artículos legales se intenta evitar el uso del mismo sustantivo, reemplazándolo por un sinónimo. Hoy en día, como traductora, encontrar sinónimos me parece una falta a la consistencia del documento, pero en aquella época cuando solo pensaba y redactaba en español tenía todo sentido.