Habeas corpus - correct translation of the Latin expression
Thread poster: jacana54 (X)

jacana54 (X)  Identity Verified
Uruguay
English to Spanish
+ ...
Mar 9, 2012

Hello,

I'm trying to find an adequate translation of the expression "habeas corpus", short for "habeas corpus ad subjiciendum". Black's Law provides a very good explanation, but the translation of the Latin phrase as "that you have the body", doesn't satisfy me.

Wikipedia says ""may you have [your] body", which makes even less sense considering this is a writ asking a court to order the corresponding law enforcement authority to produce a person who may have been illega
... See more
Hello,

I'm trying to find an adequate translation of the expression "habeas corpus", short for "habeas corpus ad subjiciendum". Black's Law provides a very good explanation, but the translation of the Latin phrase as "that you have the body", doesn't satisfy me.

Wikipedia says ""may you have [your] body", which makes even less sense considering this is a writ asking a court to order the corresponding law enforcement authority to produce a person who may have been illegally arrested.

My efforts so far:

1) Merriam-Webster:
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/habeas%20corpus%20ad%20subjiciendum
Origin of HABEAS CORPUS AD SUBJICIENDUM
New Latin, literally, you should have the body for submitting


2) Oxford dictionaries online
http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/habeas+corpus?region=us&q=habeas%20corpus
noun
Law
• a writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person’s release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention.

Origin:
late Middle English: Latin, literally 'you shall have the body (in court)'

3) Webster’s online dictionary
http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definitions/habeas%20corpus
Derivation and form
The right of habeas corpus is referred to in full in legal texts as habeas corpus ad subjiciendum or more rarely ad subjiciendum et recipiendum. The name derives from the operative words of the writ in Medieval Latin:
“ Praecipimus tibi quod corpus A.B. in prisona nostra sub custodia tua detentum, ut dicitur, una cum die et causa captionis et detentionis suae, quocumque nomine praedictus A.B. censeatur in eadem, habeas coram nobis ... ad subjiciendum et recipiendum ea quae curia nostra de eo adtunc et ibidem ordinare contigerit in hac parte. Et hoc nullatenus omittatis periculo incumbente. Et habeas ibi hoc breve.'
We command you, that the body of A.B. in Our prison under your custody detained, as it is said, together with the day and cause of his taking and detention, by whatsoever name the said A.B. may be known therein, you have at our Court ... to undergo and to receive that which our Court shall then and there consider and order in that behalf. Hereof in no way fail, at your peril. And have you then there this writ. ”
The word habeas in the writ is not in the indicative mood ("You have ..."), but in the subjunctive (specifically the volitive subjunctive): "We command that you have ...". The full name of the writ is often used to distinguish it from similar ancient writs:


4) Online etymology dictionary:
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=habeas%20corpus
"writ requiring a person to be brought before a court," mid-15c., Latin, lit. "(you should) have the person," in phrase habeas corpus ad subjiciendum "produce or have the person to be subjected to (examination)," opening words of writs in 14c. Anglo-French documents to require a person to be brought before a court or judge, especially to determine if that person is being legally detained. From habeas, second person singular present subjunctive of habere "to have, to hold" (see habit) + corpus "person," lit. "body" (see corporeal). In reference to more than one person, habeas corpa.



Can anyone help me with an authoritative source, preferably online, in which the translation of the Latin phrase matches the meaning? I would be just as happy to have a reference in Spanish.

Thanks!





[Edited at 2012-03-09 19:49 GMT]
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Steve Derry  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:17
Member
German to English
+ ...
Depends on context/ target audience Mar 10, 2012

Hi,
It's not clear from your post, but I'm assuming it's for a translation into Spanish.

In Peninsular Spanish, I have heard the term "habeas corpus" used when a detained person claims to have been detained illegally or for too long.

Alternatively Wikipedia (yes I know, not the most authoritative source) points to "amparo de libertad" as "the equivalent remedy for unlawful imprisonment in Spanish-speaking countries" This may at least give you a starting point for
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Hi,
It's not clear from your post, but I'm assuming it's for a translation into Spanish.

In Peninsular Spanish, I have heard the term "habeas corpus" used when a detained person claims to have been detained illegally or for too long.

Alternatively Wikipedia (yes I know, not the most authoritative source) points to "amparo de libertad" as "the equivalent remedy for unlawful imprisonment in Spanish-speaking countries" This may at least give you a starting point for what you are looking for. Of course, this may also depend on context and target audience.

Regards
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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:17
Spanish to English
+ ...
No se traduce /Not usually translated Mar 10, 2012

In English the term used is habeas corpus. Habeas corpus originated in the English legal system, but it is now available in many nations.
In Spain the term is understood, and according to wikipedia:
"En la actualidad el procedimiento de hábeas corpus se encuentra regulado en el ordenamiento jurídico español por la Ley Orgánica de 24 de mayo de 1984..."

In general, I think that the notion of a "correct translation" for the term is moot. I also doubt that you would be
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In English the term used is habeas corpus. Habeas corpus originated in the English legal system, but it is now available in many nations.
In Spain the term is understood, and according to wikipedia:
"En la actualidad el procedimiento de hábeas corpus se encuentra regulado en el ordenamiento jurídico español por la Ley Orgánica de 24 de mayo de 1984..."

In general, I think that the notion of a "correct translation" for the term is moot. I also doubt that you would be able to find a lawyer, or indeed any other similarly reasonably educated person, who wasn't fully aware of its meaning and use (at least in Spain, since I have no first-hand experience with other jurisdictions).

Perhaps more context and a specific reason for seeking the translation would help.



[Edited at 2012-03-10 08:47 GMT]
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jacana54 (X)  Identity Verified
Uruguay
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What I'm looking for Mar 10, 2012

Good morning. Thanks to both of you, Derrio and Neil!

Maybe I wasn't clear enough in my posting. I do know what habeas corpus is, I don't need to translate it from English to Spanish (and I wouldn't).

What I want is to provide an adequate translation of what the Latin expression means. In other words, what "habeas corpus ad subjiciendum" is in plain English (or in everyday Spanish) - imagine that I had to explain the term itself (rather than the legal concept) to someon
... See more
Good morning. Thanks to both of you, Derrio and Neil!

Maybe I wasn't clear enough in my posting. I do know what habeas corpus is, I don't need to translate it from English to Spanish (and I wouldn't).

What I want is to provide an adequate translation of what the Latin expression means. In other words, what "habeas corpus ad subjiciendum" is in plain English (or in everyday Spanish) - imagine that I had to explain the term itself (rather than the legal concept) to someone.

Yesterday this post was removed and I received the suggestion that I should ask a Kudoz question. When I pointed out that very few people would be working in the Medieval Latin to English pair, a very helpful moderator allowed it to be published.

Later I found Wikipedia in French quite helpful, and a friend and professor of legal translation has suggested "produce the person to be subjected to examination".

Hmm, I'm still thinking!

Thanks for being there, have a great weekend.

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BeaDeer  Identity Verified
English to Slovenian
+ ...
All neatly expressed in ... Wikipedia Mar 10, 2012

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habeas_corpus


... Habeas corpus (play /ˌheɪbiːəs ˈkɔrpəs/) is a Latin phrase, which can be literally translated as “(We command) that you have the body”.[3] or "you should arrest" the conventional incipit of medieval arrest warrants in England. The writ is referred to in full in legal texts as habeas corpus ad subjiciendum or more rar
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habeas_corpus


... Habeas corpus (play /ˌheɪbiːəs ˈkɔrpəs/) is a Latin phrase, which can be literally translated as “(We command) that you have the body”.[3] or "you should arrest" the conventional incipit of medieval arrest warrants in England. The writ is referred to in full in legal texts as habeas corpus ad subjiciendum or more rarely ad subjiciendum et recipiendum. It is sometimes described as the “great writ”. Its name derives from the operative words of the writ in Medieval Latin:

Praecipimus tibi quod corpus A.B. in prisona nostra sub custodia tua detentum, ut dicitur, una cum die et causa captionis et detentionis suae, quocumque nomine praedictus A.B. censeatur in eadem, habeas coram nobis ... ad subjiciendum et recipiendum ea quae curia nostra de eo adtunc et ibidem ordinare contigerit in hac parte. Et hoc nullatenus omittatis periculo incumbente. Et habeas ibi hoc breve.

We command you, that the body of A.B. in Our prison under your custody detained, as it is said, together with the day and cause of his taking and detention, by whatever name the said A.B. may be known therein, you have at our Court ... to undergo and to receive that which our Court shall then and there consider and order in that behalf. Hereof in no way fail, at your peril. And have you then there this writ.

The word habeas in the writ is in the subjunctive (specifically the volitive subjunctive): "We command that you have ...". That the basic form of the writs of habeas corpus, now written in English, has changed little over the centuries can be seen from the following examples.<
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LJC
France
Local time: 11:17
French to English
+ ...
habeas corpus Mar 10, 2012

I think "produce the person to be subjected to examination" is not bad at all. That's what habeas corpus means.

I dug out my Oxford Dictionary of Latin Words and Phrases, which gives habeas corpus as: you (i.e. the accuser) are to produce the body.
It goes on to explain: the main provision of the Habeas Corpus Act, which dates from 1679, is the requirement that the body of a person restrained of liberty should be brought before the judge or into court so that the lawfulness o
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I think "produce the person to be subjected to examination" is not bad at all. That's what habeas corpus means.

I dug out my Oxford Dictionary of Latin Words and Phrases, which gives habeas corpus as: you (i.e. the accuser) are to produce the body.
It goes on to explain: the main provision of the Habeas Corpus Act, which dates from 1679, is the requirement that the body of a person restrained of liberty should be brought before the judge or into court so that the lawfulness of the restraint may be investigated and determined.
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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:17
Hebrew to English
Plain English Mar 10, 2012

I reckon you won't get plainer than "produce the person to be subjected to examination".

 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:17
Italian to English
In memoriam
What are you trying to explain? Mar 10, 2012

Lucia Colombino wrote:

What I want is to provide an adequate translation of what the Latin expression means. In other words, what "habeas corpus ad subjiciendum" is in plain English (or in everyday Spanish) - imagine that I had to explain the term itself (rather than the legal concept) to someone.



As others have pointed out, you already have a more than adequate translation from your professor friend. Knowing the lexical meaning won't tell you much about its significance in context, though.

Papal encyclicals are similar in this respect. For example, you wouldn't guess from "Qui pluribus" ("jam abhinc annis", or "For many years past") that Pius IX was gearing up to discuss faith and religion.

If you want to parse the Latin, "habeas" is the second person singular present subjunctive of the verb "habere" (to have) used deontically (i.e. to impart an order); "corpus", the accusative case of a third declension neuter singular noun meaning "body", is its direct object; "ad" is a preposition, here used finally (i.e. to introduce the purpose); and "subjiciendum", a verbal noun from "sub(j)icio" (I submit or present), explains the purpose: presenting the "corpus", or person whose liberty is restrained, to the court that issued the writ.

HTH (but I'm not sure it will!)


 

jacana54 (X)  Identity Verified
Uruguay
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Everything helps! Mar 10, 2012

Many thanks to everyone, all your comments are very helpful indeed.

I'm proofreading a text and discussing with the author --who has used different sources to provide "accepted" translations of the expression itself-- about the best way to translate it.

A very enjoyable explanation, Giles, and you're quite right about the encyclicals. My friend Mediamatrix, unfortunately no longer a user of this site, sent me a reply with quite similar comments.

Lesley, Ty
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Many thanks to everyone, all your comments are very helpful indeed.

I'm proofreading a text and discussing with the author --who has used different sources to provide "accepted" translations of the expression itself-- about the best way to translate it.

A very enjoyable explanation, Giles, and you're quite right about the encyclicals. My friend Mediamatrix, unfortunately no longer a user of this site, sent me a reply with quite similar comments.

Lesley, Ty: that translation was suggested by Rebecca Jowers, who tried to post a reply at the precise moment when my post had been removed.

And JMDipTrans: maybe at the time this person wrote the text I'm proofreading the Wikipedia entry was not as complete as it is now, I don't know. I'm sure he'll be grateful for your input.

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Gennady Lapardin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 13:17
Italian to Russian
+ ...
Judicial review of the legality of the detention Mar 10, 2012

Writ of h.c. challenges the detention. Arrested person, upon issue of such writ (prepared by that person's lawyer and signed by the judge) must be conveyed ("with their body") to the court from the police station for the above review. Arrested person has a chance to be freed.
This is how Sir William Wade and Christopher Forsyth, Oxford, UK, understood it in 2004.
hth


 

peterkrauliz (X)
Misnomer Sep 28, 2012

Hi folks,

I think the term 'Habeas Corpus Act' is a misnomer for what the act actually stands for in the first place. Especially the phrase "to submit a habeas corpus writ" seems to require urgent re-wording.

The English term for the Act therefore could be "Circumstances of lawful detention", possibly worded "Adiunctis de legitimo detentione" in Latin, and the legal action would read "Adiunctis de legitimo detentione writ".

How does this sound, folks?
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Hi folks,

I think the term 'Habeas Corpus Act' is a misnomer for what the act actually stands for in the first place. Especially the phrase "to submit a habeas corpus writ" seems to require urgent re-wording.

The English term for the Act therefore could be "Circumstances of lawful detention", possibly worded "Adiunctis de legitimo detentione" in Latin, and the legal action would read "Adiunctis de legitimo detentione writ".

How does this sound, folks?

EPK
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Nate Stoffregen
United States
Habeus corpus Dec 16, 2019

The way my high school history teacher explained it was that Habeus corpus was invoked when people were accused of committing a crime, such as murder. Habeus corpus was used as a defense. "Produce the body". And, if there is no body to be found, then one could not be convicted for the crime of killing that person.

 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 05:17
Member (2008)
French to English
+ ...
Habeas corpus: protection against unlawful detention Dec 16, 2019

Nate Stoffregen wrote:

The way my high school history teacher explained it was that Habeus corpus was invoked when people were accused of committing a crime, such as murder. Habeus corpus was used as a defense. "Produce the body". And, if there is no body to be found, then one could not be convicted for the crime of killing that person.


I don't think your history teacher was correct. Habeas corpus is the principle that detention must be justified and not unlawful. See for example:

https://www.britannica.com/topic/habeas-corpus
https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/habeas_corpus#
https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/rfc-dlc/ccrf-ccdl/check/art10c.html


 


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Habeas corpus - correct translation of the Latin expression

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