...shall be up to the period of calendar days previous to the...

English translation: it could mean no earlier than/not before, but it is ambiguous

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:...shall be up to the period of calendar days previous to the...
English translation:it could mean no earlier than/not before, but it is ambiguous
Entered by: Charles Davis

22:24 Jun 13, 2018
English to English translations [PRO]
Finance (general)
English term or phrase: ...shall be up to the period of calendar days previous to the...
Dear colleagues,

the whole sentence reads:

"Scheduling Dates shall be up to the period of calendar days previous to the Application Date stated in the Bank system."

The sentence appears in the International Payments Orders (Country) Conditions of a bank.

- "Application Date" is defined as "business day stated by the Customer in order for the Bank to execute the International Payment Order.

- "Scheduling Date" (also called Data Collection Date) is defined as "the day in which the Customer saved the data corresponding to the wire transfer in the Bank local data base".

First, do you understand that "stated in the Bank system" refers to the period of calendar days previous to the Application Date? (Since we are not told how many calendar days has that period, not in the sentence, not elsewhere in the document).

And most importantly, does the sentence mean that a Scheduling Date cannot be a date AFTER the period of X calendar days prior to the Application date? In other words, that Scheduling Dates shall be at least X calendar days before the Application date?

I am pretty lost here, many thanks in advance for your help!
Rebeca Martín Lorenzo
Spain
Local time: 11:22
it could mean no earlier than/not before, but it is ambiguous
Explanation:
I'm not surprised you find this confusing. It is badly expressed. Indeed, I suspect it may have been written by a non-native speaker; "the day in which the Customer saved the data", in the definition of "Scheduling Date", suggests this possibility, since I think a native speaker would almost certainly have written "the day on which...". That possibility is worth bearing in mind, because in attempting to interpret this, we may want to use the argument "if they had meant X, they would have expressed it like this"; that argument may be valid for a native speaker, but maybe not here. Which adds to the difficulty.

Anyway, on the first point, you are right: "stated in the Bank system" definitely refers to the period of calendar days, not to the Application Date. This must be so; apart from the fact that the number of calendar days is not stated in the document, the sentence doesn't make sense if "stated in the Bank system" refers to the Application Date. "The period of calendar days previous to the Application Date" invites the question "what period of calendar days?". That period must be defined, and "stated in the Bank system" must be the definition.

But the second question is much more difficult to answer, and here the sentence is ambiguous. "Up to" could mean "no later than", or "not after", as you suggest, so the Scheduling Date can be any date up to, but not after, the start of the stated period of days previous to the Application Date, or it could mean that the Scheduling Date can precede the Application Date by a number of days up to but not exceeding the stated period. In that case, it would mean that the Scheduling Date must be no earlier than, or not before, the start of the specified period. In the first case, the specified period would be the minimum notice period; in the second, it would be the maximum period of prior scheduling that the system allows.

In principle, both are possible. Obviously financial institutions do sometimes require a certain minimum notice period for performing operations. But they also sometimes limit the period of prior scheduling. For example:

"In the New International Wire Transfer section, complete the following in order:
[...]
b. Transfer Start Date:
Enter the start date or select the date from the calendar. You may schedule up to 5 days in advance.
Note: This is the date the wire is to be sent."
https://www.territorialsavings.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/0...

Here, clearly, they are saying that you may not schedule more than five days in advance.

The next one is about bill payments, not wire transfers, but it again illustrates the possibility of a maximum period of prior scheduling:

"Scheduling Online Bill Payments. You may instruct us to send a payment on any business day (the "Payment Send Date"), up to 365 days in advance."
https://www.ppbi.com/home/online-banking-agreement.html

"How many days prior to the effective date can I initiate or approve an ACH batch?
You can initiate or approve ACH batches up to 30 days in advance of the effective date."
https://www.heritagebanknw.com/home/fiFiles/static/documents...

So then the idea that the "period of calendar days previous to the Application Date" could be a maximum, not a minimum, is plausible in principle.

Which do they mean here? We really can't tell. You might argue that "calendar days" tends to suggest that it is a maximum period (no earlier than/not before), since when banks require minimum notice for operations it is normally a number of working days, not calendar days (if it's two days then they can't be Saturday and Sunday). On the other hand, "shall be" suggests a requirement, rather than an option, which tends to support the idea of a minimum notice period; if they mean a maximum period of prior scheduling, it would be more natural to say "may be". But as I said at the beginning, we can't rely on these people expressing things in the natural way.

To me, "up to" tends to suggest up to a maximum period: up to 5/30/365 days, as in the examples I've quoted. This tends to support the "maximum period" reading. But again, we can't be sure that those who wrote this appreciate that people will read it this way.

Finally, it is not really clear to me why a minimum notice period should be required for executing an international wire transfer. To my mind, you can normally ask for it to be done immediately. How long it will take to reach the recipient is another matter.

So I think the balance of probability favours this reading: "no earlier than", rather than "no later than". Nevertheless, it is far from certain. So I think your options are, first, to do whatever you can to find out which they mean by asking through your client or investigating the bank in question, or failing that, translate it literally, in a way that is equally ambiguous, and add a note drawing attention to the ambiguity.
Selected response from:

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 11:22
Grading comment
Thank you so much for your very valuable help!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4it could mean no earlier than/not before, but it is ambiguous
Charles Davis


  

Answers


9 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
it could mean no earlier than/not before, but it is ambiguous


Explanation:
I'm not surprised you find this confusing. It is badly expressed. Indeed, I suspect it may have been written by a non-native speaker; "the day in which the Customer saved the data", in the definition of "Scheduling Date", suggests this possibility, since I think a native speaker would almost certainly have written "the day on which...". That possibility is worth bearing in mind, because in attempting to interpret this, we may want to use the argument "if they had meant X, they would have expressed it like this"; that argument may be valid for a native speaker, but maybe not here. Which adds to the difficulty.

Anyway, on the first point, you are right: "stated in the Bank system" definitely refers to the period of calendar days, not to the Application Date. This must be so; apart from the fact that the number of calendar days is not stated in the document, the sentence doesn't make sense if "stated in the Bank system" refers to the Application Date. "The period of calendar days previous to the Application Date" invites the question "what period of calendar days?". That period must be defined, and "stated in the Bank system" must be the definition.

But the second question is much more difficult to answer, and here the sentence is ambiguous. "Up to" could mean "no later than", or "not after", as you suggest, so the Scheduling Date can be any date up to, but not after, the start of the stated period of days previous to the Application Date, or it could mean that the Scheduling Date can precede the Application Date by a number of days up to but not exceeding the stated period. In that case, it would mean that the Scheduling Date must be no earlier than, or not before, the start of the specified period. In the first case, the specified period would be the minimum notice period; in the second, it would be the maximum period of prior scheduling that the system allows.

In principle, both are possible. Obviously financial institutions do sometimes require a certain minimum notice period for performing operations. But they also sometimes limit the period of prior scheduling. For example:

"In the New International Wire Transfer section, complete the following in order:
[...]
b. Transfer Start Date:
Enter the start date or select the date from the calendar. You may schedule up to 5 days in advance.
Note: This is the date the wire is to be sent."
https://www.territorialsavings.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/0...

Here, clearly, they are saying that you may not schedule more than five days in advance.

The next one is about bill payments, not wire transfers, but it again illustrates the possibility of a maximum period of prior scheduling:

"Scheduling Online Bill Payments. You may instruct us to send a payment on any business day (the "Payment Send Date"), up to 365 days in advance."
https://www.ppbi.com/home/online-banking-agreement.html

"How many days prior to the effective date can I initiate or approve an ACH batch?
You can initiate or approve ACH batches up to 30 days in advance of the effective date."
https://www.heritagebanknw.com/home/fiFiles/static/documents...

So then the idea that the "period of calendar days previous to the Application Date" could be a maximum, not a minimum, is plausible in principle.

Which do they mean here? We really can't tell. You might argue that "calendar days" tends to suggest that it is a maximum period (no earlier than/not before), since when banks require minimum notice for operations it is normally a number of working days, not calendar days (if it's two days then they can't be Saturday and Sunday). On the other hand, "shall be" suggests a requirement, rather than an option, which tends to support the idea of a minimum notice period; if they mean a maximum period of prior scheduling, it would be more natural to say "may be". But as I said at the beginning, we can't rely on these people expressing things in the natural way.

To me, "up to" tends to suggest up to a maximum period: up to 5/30/365 days, as in the examples I've quoted. This tends to support the "maximum period" reading. But again, we can't be sure that those who wrote this appreciate that people will read it this way.

Finally, it is not really clear to me why a minimum notice period should be required for executing an international wire transfer. To my mind, you can normally ask for it to be done immediately. How long it will take to reach the recipient is another matter.

So I think the balance of probability favours this reading: "no earlier than", rather than "no later than". Nevertheless, it is far from certain. So I think your options are, first, to do whatever you can to find out which they mean by asking through your client or investigating the bank in question, or failing that, translate it literally, in a way that is equally ambiguous, and add a note drawing attention to the ambiguity.

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 11:22
Meets criteria
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 82
Grading comment
Thank you so much for your very valuable help!
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