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Useful information for EN SP translators (Legal - Bilingual dictionaries)
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Oct 12, 2003



Diccionario de Derecho Mercantil, Mexico, 2001. Price: U.S.$31.95. This is a dictionary of commercial law terms with specific reference to Mexican law. It is a compilation of the commercial law terms that appear in the multi-volume Diccionario jurídico mexicano and gives the user access to the encyclopedic entries of that dictionary without having to invest the entire set. Examples of terms defined are acto de comercio, bono de prenda, intereses constructivos, nulidad de sociedades, etc.

Diccionario de derecho constitucional, by Raúl Chanamé Orbe, Peru 2002. Price: U.S.$45.00. This dictionary from Peru includes the text of the Peruvian Constitution, the American Convention on Human Rights, and even the Magna Carta! It contains handy charts showing the separation of powers (p. 326), the Peruvian executive branch (p. 274), the Peruvian ombudsman, etc. If you translate legal documents from Peru, you need this book.

Diccionario de derecho, by Rafael de Pina and Rafael de Pina Vara. Mexico, 2003. Price: U.S.$40.00. This is an excellent monolingual dictionary of Mexican legal terminology. Although much shorter than the Diccionario para juristas described above (525 pages versus 1700 pages), it provides concise definitions of many of the terms that appear in Mexican legal writing. It includes references to Mexican laws and codes.


Diccionario de términos jurídicos, inglés-español, Spanish-English, by Enrique Alcaraz Varó and Brian Hughes. 6th edition, 2001. Price: U.S.$69.95. This is an excellent bilingual dictionary of legal terminology, with many examples of usage and short explanations. It is particularly useful for translating legal documents from Spain.

Spanish-English Dictionary of Law and Business, by Thomas L. West III, 1999. Price: U.S.$50.00. This is primarily a Spanish to English dictionary of legal and financial terminology. Unlike the other dictionaries on the market, it contains the terms that are unique to each Latin American country. It also contains many explanations and cross-references.

Diccionario de términos legales, by Louis Robb. Price: U.S.$29.50. This well-known dictionary has been around for a long time, but it still proves it worth because of the many country-specific terms it includes. It definitely contains terms that you won’t find in a dictionary from Spain, Mexico or Argentina (because they are unique to Venezuela, for example). This basic, inexpensive reference belongs in every legal translator’s library.

Glosario internacional para el traductor, by Marina Orellana. Santiago, Chile. BRAND NEW EDITION! (May 2003). U.S.$39.95. Although not a legal dictionary per se, this is a book that no Spanish translator can afford to be without, because it contains so many words (and phrases) that can’t be found anywhere else. The new 4th edition published in May 2003 is significantly larger than the previous edition, and the list of stock phrases has been incorporated into the text of the book. Even if you have the earlier edition, it’s worth getting the new one.

Diccionario de terminología jurídica mexicana, by Javier Becerra. Mexico: 2000. Price: U.S.$80. This bilingual dictionary by Mexican lawyer Javier Becerra is one of the best on the market because of (1) the detailed explanations of the terms and (2) the examples of usage included with many of the important terms. Although the terms were all taken from Mexican law, the majority of them would appear in documents from other Spanish-speaking countries as well. Note that the dictionary is Spanish-into-English only and that the dictionary is not available in bookstores in Mexico.


El texto jurídico inglés y su traducción al español, by Anabel Borja Albi. Spain, 2000. Price: U.S.$21.95. This is a guide to translation of legal texts from English into Spanish.

El español jurídico, by Enrique Alcaraz Varó and Brian Hughes. Spain, 2002. Price: U.S.$31.95. This is an excellent introduction to Spanish legal language. It is not a dictionary, but rather a textbook explaining how Spanish legal language works. It is particularly useful to Spanish-to-English translators. Highly recommended!

El inglés jurídico norteamericano, by Enrique Alcaraz Varó, Miguel Ángel Campos Pardillos and Cynthia Miguélez. 2001. Price: U.S.$31.95. This book is intended primarily for English-into-Spanish translators and introduces them to the legal language of the United States. Very thorough explanations in Spanish of U.S. legal concepts. Don’t miss the U.S. legal documents translated into Spanish.

The Civil Law Tradition: An Introduction to the Legal Systems of Western Europe and Latin America, by John Henry Merryman. 2nd edition, 1985. Price: U.S.$24.95. This is a highly-readable English-language explanation of the legal system prevailing in Spanish-speaking countries. It is a must for translators working between legal Spanish and legal English.

Legal English, by Peter M. Tiersma. Univ. of Chicago Press, 1999. U.S.$24.95. This is a very interesting book on legal English and how it came about. It discusses “shall” versus “will,” archaicisms such as “to wit,” and even legal slang. It has been very popular with our customers.

Derecho mercantil, by Calvo, Mexico. Price: U.S.$45.00. Mexico 2001. This book will give you the background you need in order to translate commercial documents and corporate law from Mexico. It explains the various types of “sociedades” and the different negotiable instruments (known as “títulos de crédito” in Mexico. Trusts, loans, and bankruptcy are three of the other topics covered in this fundamental book, which is a standard at Mexican law schools.

Diccionario de siglas y abreviaturas, by Thomas L. West. Intermark, 2002. Price: U.S.$24.95. This brand new dictionary by Intermark founder Tom West provides the expansion of more than 6,500 abbreviations from around the Spanish-speaking world. In addition to legal abbreviations, it contains abbreviations from the realms of finance, education, government and much more.


Textos literarios para traducir: español-inglés. Nivel avanzado, by Susan Taylor. Spain, 1999. $19.95. This handy book includes 40 passages from famous and not-so-famous works of literature in Spanish and provides an annotated translation of each of them into English. The student can practice by comparing his or her own translation with the annotated translation in the book.

La traducción del inglés al castellano, by Marina Orellana, Chile 1987. $19.00. This masterpiece by former U.N. translator Marina Orellana has chapters on false cognates, English words that are difficult to translate into Spanish, stylistics, punctuation, abuse of the indefinite article in Spanish, use of the possessive, differences between the Spanish of Spain and the Spanish of Latin America, etc., as well as a clear explanation of what translation is and what it isn’t.

Manual práctico de traducción directa, inglés-español, by Susan Taylor and José Merino Spain, $29.95. Translators from English into Spanish will be fascinated with this book. One of the most interesting parts is a list of pairs of phrases that are very similar but have completely different meanings, e.g. “That’s lovely country” versus “That’s a lovely country.” The former is “Ese es un bello paraje” in Spanish, while the latter is “Ese es un bello país.” Another list covers two-word pairs whose meaning changes depending on the order, e.g., “costume designer” is “diseñador de ropa” while “designer costume” is “ropa de diseño.” Another fascinating list includes phrases that are ambiguous in English and cannot be translated accurately without more context. For example, “There was a tap on the wall” can mean either “Había un grifo en la pared” or “Se oyó un golpecito en la par
ed.” Yet another section deals with how to translate words ending in “ing” into Spanish, e.g., “eating is necessary” is “comer [not “comiendo”] es necesario” There are also sections on false cognates, phrasal verbs, compound nouns, etc.

Después de Babel: Aspectos del lenguaje y la traducción, by George Steiner, translated into Spanish by Adolfo Castañón and Aurelio Major. Mexico, 1995. Price U.S.$35.00. Taking issue with the principal emphasis of modern linguistics, Steiner finds the root of the "Babel problem" in our deep instinct for privacy and territory, noting that every people has in its language a unique body of shared secrecy. With this provocative thesis he analyzes every aspect of translation from fundamental conditions of interpretation to the most intricate of linguistic constructions.


Diccionario de dudas y problemas del idioma español, by Manuel Rafael Aragó. Argentina, 1995. Price: U.S.$35.00. This book explains both Argentine and universal usage. For example, under the entry for “carátula,” we find that “carátula” is now included in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española with the meaning “cubierta o portada de un libro,” and that in Argentina, it is also used to mean “cubierta de un legajo o expediente.” Under “departamento” we learn that “en la Argentina, la preferencia por departamento [meaning apartment] es evidente: el diario Clarín de Buenos Aires encabeza los avisos correspondientes con el título “Departamentos”.

Diccionario de los usos correctos del español, by María Luisa Olsen de Serrano Redonnet and Alicia María Zorrilla de Rodríguez. Argentina, 1997. Price: U.S.$39.95. This 1,219-page book covers all issues of correct Spanish usage. For example: Is it “cartel” or “cártel”? How do you pronounce “cónyuge”? What is the adjective form of the city of Jujuy in Argentina? Do Argentines say “vídeo” or “video”? Do people use “escuchar” to mean “oír”?

El Pais: Libro de Estilo, Spain, 2002. Price: U.S.$36.50. This style guide from Spain’s leading daily newspaper will be of use to translators whose texts will be published. It includes a manual on topics such as writing percentages, measurements, dates, etc., a dictionary of abbreviations, and a guide to proper Spanish usage when writing place names.

Diccionario de las preposiciones españolas: Norma y Uso, by Alicia María Zorrilla. Price: U.S.$15.00. This is an Intermark bestseller. It is simply a thorough dictionary of which prepositions go with which words in Spanish. For example, “confesar AL sacerdote sus pecados,” “confesarse CON ese sacerdote,” “conformarse A vivir sola,” “conformarse CON el nuevo cadete.”

Dudas idiomáticas frecuentes (CD-ROM), by Academia Argentina de Letras. $15.00. This nifty CD-ROM explains the proper usage of confusing terms and issues (such as “dequeísmo” versus “queísmo” and provides verb conjugations of irregular verbs.

Buenas y malas palabras: Notas de redacción para el buen hablar y escribir, by Marina Orellana. Santiago, 1994. $10.50. This is a collection of articles on proper usage in Spanish written by the bestselling author of the Glosario internacional para el traductor. It’s a pleasure to read and will definitely give you ideas on how to improve your translations into Spanish.

El habla culta (o lo que debiera serlo), by Martha Hildebrandt. Peru, 2000. $29.95. This is a compendium of articles by Peruvian linguist Martha Hildebrandt on various Spanish words and how they are used in Peru and other Latin American countries. For example, under “de repente” we learn that the phrase is used in Peru to mean “tal vez” or “a lo mejor.” However, the usage notes are not restricted to Peru. Under the entry for “lustrabotas,” the author points out that the term in Mexico is bolero, while Colombians say “embolador.” She also cites passages from Latin American literature using the term in question.

A buen entendedor…Diccionario de frases hechas de la lengua castellana, by Margarita Candón and Elena Bonnet. Madrid, 2000. $39.95. This is a dictionary of set phrases, saying and proverbs in Spanish with interesting explanations of how each of them came about.


Diccionario del español usual en México, by El Colegio de México. Mexico, 1996. Price: U.S.$39.95. This is not a dictionary of Mexicanisms, although it does include many terms unique to Mexico. Instead, it is a dictionary of the Spanish words that are used in Mexico. Thus, for example, if you are trying to determine whether Mexicans say “aportación” or “aporte,” you can use this book to find out that “aportación” is right for Mexico. There are also examples of usage to help you translate correctly into Spanish for Mexico.

Manual del español coloquial de México, by José Carlos Escobar Hernández. Mexico, 2002. Price: U.S.$31.95. This new book on Mexican Spanish is divided into three parts. In Part I, the author explains colloquial usage in everyday life (greeting people, asking them how they are doing). In Part II, he explains idiomatic expressions that are used in Mexican Spanish. Part III contains a collection of proverbs (refranes) and sayings that are popular in Mexico, as well as a list of Mexicanisms with their translation into standard Spanish.

Enciclopedia histórica de México (CD-ROM), Mexico, 2001. Price: U.S.$49.95. This interactive CD-ROM covers 35,000 years of Mexican history—up through the inauguration of President Vicente Fox. It contains 600 illustrated files, 80 maps, 9 musical fragments, 30 minutes of video, 31 animations, more than 100 anecdotes and refrains, and 1,200 trivia questions. The perfect reference for anyone working with Mexican documents.

Diccionario culinario mexicano bilingüe, español-inglés, English-Spanish, by Elsa G. Casanova. Mexico, 2001. Price: U.S.$19.95. This interesting little paperback consists of several parts: a Spanish-English dictionary of Mexican culinary terms, an explanatory dictionary of spices and condiments, a glossary of Mexican culinary terms with their equivalents in the Spanish of other Latin American countries, and an English-Spanish dictionary of culinary terms. It also includes a handy table of metric conversions.

Diccionario Breve de Mexicanismos, by Guido Gomez de Silva. México, 2001. Price: U.S.$29.95. This is a new dictionary of terms that are unique to Mexican Spanish.


Diccionario Enciclopédico de Química, by Jacques Angenault. México, 2000. U.S.$49.95. This 569-page specialized monolingual Spanish dictionary describes technical terms in the field of chemistry, listed from A-Z. Illustrations of structures, comparison tables, and in-depth explanations make this dictionary particularly useful.

Diccionario de Medicina, by Dr. E Dabout. México, 1999. U.S.$24.95. The 652 pages of this monolingual Spanish dictionary include over 30,000 medical definitions and terms.

Inglés Médico: Manual de Traducción, by Luis Asrin. Argentina, 2000. U.S.$35.00. The 295 pages of this Spanish-English workbook cover topics ranging from infectious diseases and preventive care to specialized surgical procedures. It includes over 600 translation exercises, a medical glossary, and conversion tables, and points out differences between U.K. and U.S. vernacular in the medical field.


Diccionario bancario y bursátil, by Armando Ibarra Hernández. Mexico: Porrua, 2002. Price: US$29.95. This is a monolingual dictionary of Mexican banking and stock market terminology defined in Spanish. Many of the terms are unique to Mexico, and therefore, the dictionary can be a useful addition to the Diccionario de términos económicos, financieros y comerciales (described below), which is from Spain.

Glosario para la empresa, by Silvana Debonis. Buenos Aires: La Ley, 2002. Price: US$40.00. This is the long-awaited financial dictionary by popular speaker Silvana Debonis. It is both English-Spanish and Spanish-English and contains a whole host of terms that you won’t find elsewhere. It is particularly useful if you are translating highly sophisticated financial documents from English to Spanish or from Spanish to English.

Diccionario de términos económicos, financieros y comerciales, by Enrique Alcaraz Varó. Price $84.95. Like all dictionaries by Alcaraz Varó, this one is comprehensive and accurate. It is particularly useful for translating documents from Spain.

Diccionario de contabilidad y auditoría, by Enrique Fowler Newton. Buenos Aires: Ediciones Macchi, 1994. Price: US$69.95. The wonderful thing about this monolingual dictionary from Argentina is that it not only gives you the Argentine term, but also tells you the equivalents in Mexico and Spain. For example, if you look up “capital neto de trabajo” you find that this is the Mexican equivalent of “capital corriente” in Argentina. If you look up the uniquely Argentine term “bienes de uso,” you’ll find a whole list of synonyms, including “activo fijo material” (España) and “propiedad, planta y equipo” (México). This is the book that Tom West used to prepare his popular talk at the Richard Gray Financial Translation seminar in Madrid in June. It is a real find and sure to be a hit with financial translators who have to translate documents from around the Spanish-speaking world.

Diccionario de términos financieros, by Rafael Barandiarán. México: Trillas, 2000. Price: US$29.95. This is a monolingual dictionary of financial terminology used in Mexico, with extensive explanations of the terms in Spanish. The appendix contains an English-Spanish glossary and a list of U.S. and Mexican acronyms used in financial documents. An example of a uniquely Mexican term you will find in this book is “derecho de tanto,” the definition of which clearly refers to what we would call “preemptive rights.” Again, dictionaries from Spain will not help you as much with Mexican documents as much as this dictionary and some of the others listed here will.

Diccionario de mercados financieros, by José Heras. Barcelona: Gestión 2000, 2001. Price: US$39.95. This monolingual dictionary from Spain includes an English-Spanish glossary at the back, as well as a list of Spanish-language acronyms. Some of the trickier terms that it includes (with their English translation) are “emisión comprada” (bought deal), “emisión liberada” (bonus issue) and “entero” (point, as in “basis point”). Unlike the other dictionaries listed here, this one is primarily for use with documents from Spain.

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Dan Marasescu  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:50
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Gracias Oct 13, 2003

Gracias Chenoumi. Todo muy útil.

Un saludo,

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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
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Diccionario de terminología jurídica mexicana, by Javier Becerra Oct 14, 2003

This dictionary can be bought in the Escuela Libre de Derecho in Mexico City. It's a life-saver.

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