Use country name

If you translate legal documents, this is a great tip for a very common issue. Enjoy!


As originally posted on SpanishLegalTranslation by Reed D. James

When a document is being written for an audience in the same country, there is no need to specify which country the author is talking about. “en este país” is the most appropriate way to phrase it in most instances. Nor is it necessary to do so when naming national institutions, figures and publications. What would be the point? Emphasis is the only reason that comes to mind.

However, when translating that same document into English, it is usually appropriate to translate “en este país” as “in Mexico/Colombia/Spain/etc.” We cannot expect the target reader to automatically know which country the author is referring to, at least not in the first instance. Perhaps it later instances of the document, the translator could omit the country’s name since he or she already mentioned it in the first instance of this phrase.

National institutions, as alluded to above, may also require the country’s name in the translation even when not explicitly included in the source term. “Tesorería General de la República” should be translated as “Chilean Treasury Department”. (I have seen “General Treasury of the Republic”, but “Republic of what?” is the question that pops into my head when I see it translated that way).

Any of you who have translated any number of translations from Spain will have come across the “BOE” or “Boletín Oficial del Estado”. I translate it as “Official Spanish Gazette” because upon saying Spanish, I am saying that the publication belongs to the Spanish government which, in turn, alludes to “Estado” or “State”.

Reed D. James is a professional translator working out of Chile. You can find him listed on Proz and Translator’s Cafe. He blogs at SpanishLegalTranslation as well as Translation Office 3000.

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