Welcome to Rob Lunn’s legal translation style guide page!
Substance AND style
Translating legal documents can be tricky. As well as having to work your way around non-equivalent legal terms, you also have to make decisions about style and usage to:
- Bridge the gap between the differing norms, forms and customs of foreign legal languages.
- Select the right target-language term from a range of equally compelling options.
My default style settings
This page lists solutions to common questions of style in legal translation and includes problems you find when translating from Spanish to English and matters solely to do with legal English. By no means definitive solutions, these points are just what I do in certain grey areas.
Prickly points of style in ES>EN legal translation
NB: British English followed except when the US option is better.
Use in contracts and similar only to express the obligations of the parties in active sentences (i.e., The Seller shall … but not The Agreement
shall or the meeting shall be held). Recast as necessary.
That or which for non-defining relative clauses?
Follow US-English rule, i.e., use which for non-defining relative clauses and that for defining relative clauses. (Link to fuller explanation to come.)
Law and article or act and section?
Use law and article to translate ley and artículo when they refer to statutes (NOT act and section, another accepted option). See here for a more detailed discussion.
The singular they
It depends but in general and in the following order:
2. Use they where the most likely of the above strategies produces even a hint of awkwardness.
3. Use he/she where all the above options prove awkward (i.e., more awkward the he/she) or might cause confusion.
Stay tuned. More to come…
Please let me know what you think. Any input would be much appreciated.