[English to Spanish] Translation of terms in Criminal Law (murder & manslaughter)
Thread poster: agosto

agosto
El Salvador
Local time: 23:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nov 1, 2018

Hello, I am a professional translator based in El Salvador and I translate academic texts in the social sciences (for which I have a degree). I've come across a book that is mostly psychology-based but includes legal terminology in Criminal Law that I am really struggling with. The rule of thumb I have found on may forums is to find legal equivalents across languages AND bodies of law. The task becomes overwhelming considering that different states in the US have different terminologies AND diff... See more
Hello, I am a professional translator based in El Salvador and I translate academic texts in the social sciences (for which I have a degree). I've come across a book that is mostly psychology-based but includes legal terminology in Criminal Law that I am really struggling with. The rule of thumb I have found on may forums is to find legal equivalents across languages AND bodies of law. The task becomes overwhelming considering that different states in the US have different terminologies AND different countries in Latin America do too. For instance, the term "murder" is often translated as "asesinato", however this is not a term that appears in the Salvadoran Penal Code, where the term that is utilised is "homicidio". Add to this other terms like manslaughter, non-negligent manslaughter, reckless manslaughter and things get more complicated. Any tips on how I can navigate this?Collapse


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 05:44
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Is this useful? Nov 1, 2018

https://www.saccourt.ca.gov/general/legal-glossaries/docs/spanish-legal-glossary.pdf

agosto
 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Dictionary Nov 2, 2018

“Homicidio” and “asesinato” are not the same, no matter what country you are talking about. Examples:

1. You are a police officer. Someone attacks you with a knife. You are trying to repel the attack and during the struggle you pull your gun and shot the attacker dead. “Homicidio”, but not “asesinato”.

2. You approach a person from behind and without being seen shoot the person dead without ever giving them any chance to defend themselves. “Homicidio
... See more
“Homicidio” and “asesinato” are not the same, no matter what country you are talking about. Examples:

1. You are a police officer. Someone attacks you with a knife. You are trying to repel the attack and during the struggle you pull your gun and shot the attacker dead. “Homicidio”, but not “asesinato”.

2. You approach a person from behind and without being seen shoot the person dead without ever giving them any chance to defend themselves. “Homicidio” (as you effetely took that person’s life) and also “asesinato” (as you never gave them a chance to defent themselves).


Then we have different “agravantes”, such as “alevosía” or “disfraz”, which go with “aesinato”.

In other words, “homicidio” is every time someone causes the death of any other person (if self-inflicted, then “suicidio”). “Asesinato” is a “tipo especial”, which requires certain circumstances.

If you do not understand legal concepts, your best friend would be a dictionary of legal terms. However, always try to consult someone who either is a lawyer or works with legal texts.

Suerte,
MD
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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:44
French to English
Legal translation Nov 2, 2018

Many fields of translation require specialist knowledge of the discipline. However, when translating without one particular field, it is not unusual to come across sections where specialist knowledge is required but that we do not have that knowledge. Legal translation is a discipline in its own right but legal terminology can appear in many other contexts too. Legal knowledge, training or experience is sometimes needed. The legal terminology used in the UK and in the USA is not always identical... See more
Many fields of translation require specialist knowledge of the discipline. However, when translating without one particular field, it is not unusual to come across sections where specialist knowledge is required but that we do not have that knowledge. Legal translation is a discipline in its own right but legal terminology can appear in many other contexts too. Legal knowledge, training or experience is sometimes needed. The legal terminology used in the UK and in the USA is not always identical and yet both are English-speaking countries with lots of thing in common when it comes to law.

One of the best ways to get started is to compare reliable references in the source language and target language. Some legal dictionaries are not accurate or applicable everywhere. If you do use bilingual legal dictionary sources, make that the source/target countries are relevant to your context and that the date of the publication is appropriate. Otherwise, I agree with Merab about having a person with relevant knowledge etc. check what you have written.
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Eliza Hall
agosto
 

Eliza Hall
United States
Local time: 00:44
Member (2018)
French to English
+ ...
Get the expertise, or the expert Nov 2, 2018

I'm a lawyer, and even I sometimes need to do a fair bit of research before translating some terms, because the US and UK legal systems are distinctly different than the systems in any French-speaking jurisdiction.

If you've already been hired to translate a text that has legal terms in it, I think you have to at the very least get a lot of help in forums and/or Kudoz here, or ideally, find a bilingual lawyer in El Salvador who can help you (and pay that person to help). That's what
... See more
I'm a lawyer, and even I sometimes need to do a fair bit of research before translating some terms, because the US and UK legal systems are distinctly different than the systems in any French-speaking jurisdiction.

If you've already been hired to translate a text that has legal terms in it, I think you have to at the very least get a lot of help in forums and/or Kudoz here, or ideally, find a bilingual lawyer in El Salvador who can help you (and pay that person to help). That's what I would do if, say, I had been hired to translate a book and found it contained a lot of really arcane medical or engineering terminology. Matter of fact, I did once translate an RFP for the construction of a power plant, and ran across lots of terms I didn't understand, so I went and talked to some engineers. That's sometimes what you have to do. And unless you happen to be friends with such experts they're not going to do it for free, so you have to either factor that into the price you charge, or decline the job, or suggest collaborating with a specialized translator (legal, engineering, whatever).

For future reference, you may want to see if there are ways you can gain a solid understanding of the law so that you can do more of this translation with less help.

In short, you either need to gain the expertise (learn about the law yourself), or hire an expert.
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agosto
 

paula arturo  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 02:44
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Even lawyers struggle with these terms Nov 4, 2018

Eliza Hall wrote:

I'm a lawyer, and even I sometimes need to do a fair bit of research before translating some terms, because the US and UK legal systems are distinctly different than the systems in any French-speaking jurisdiction.



Like Eliza, I'm also a lawyer (and law professor, with over 17 years' experience as a translator), and I still have to do a fair amount of research to translate legal terminology across languages and systems. So don't beat yourself up over it. Just put in the research and, as Eliza suggested, get an expert to help you!

Some things you should know: "asesinato" is a layman's term. Latin American criminal systems are codified and that codification was inherited in most countries from the German criminal system. We have "tipos penales" not "charges," so murder will fall under some form of "homicidio" usually either "doloso" (with intent) or "culposo" (without intent).

If you're struggling with criminal terminology, I would recommend the following dictionaries:

Tomasi's Law Dictionary (An English-Spanish Dictionary of Criminal Law and Procedure). You can probably get it on Amazon.

Another excellent resource (though considerably more expensive) is "Diccionario Jurídico" by Guillermo De Las Cuevas and Eleanor C. Hoague Cabanellas.

Hope that helps!


Eliza Hall
agosto
 


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[English to Spanish] Translation of terms in Criminal Law (murder & manslaughter)

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