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Review by Sharlee Merner Bradley

May 2008

Traducciones de contratos inglés-español español-inglés. Tomo II. By Liliana Bernardita Mariotto. 2nd edition, 2008. 346 pages.
ISBN: 978 987 05 4063 2

This new volume updates Contratos Civiles y Comerciales II, published in 1996.
I cannot recommend this volume too highly to those who translate contracts to or from Spanish.

In addition to translations updated from the earlier edition and a thousand-word contextual glossary, the author has provided the Spanish<-->English legal translator with several valuable tools:
o a brief contrast and explanation in both languages of certain concepts associated with contracts, such as the two legal systems (the law of Argentina representing the Spanish system), notary public, types of corporations, shares and stocks, power of attorney, and agency.
o An index of translator’s notes, practical references to Plain Language and Lenguaje Claro with translation solutions.
o A good bibliography for translators beginning to collect their own reference works.

In Tomo II as in Tomo I, the author has improved usability by placing the source and target texts on opposite pages. She has retranslated, revised and corrected the texts to bring them up to date.

Some topics I have found particularly useful, such as the following corporate documents: acta de constitución (y estatuto), contrato de sociedad, and carta de intención. A good way to determine whether this volume will be useful to you is to look over the table of contents.

Importance of context
Here are several examples demonstrating how much context influences the translation:
asamblea ordinaria can be "annual meeting" of stockholders (p. 92)
reunión ordinaria "regular meeting"of the board of directors (p.100)
asamblea extraordinaria would be a "special meeting" (p. 92)
con derecho a voto can be "voting " (p. 94) or "entitled to vote" (p. 94)
otorgado con mi firma = "given under my signature" (p.121)
otorgado ante = "sealed and delivered in the presence of" (p. 178)
otorgado a + date = "executed on" (p. 83)
Prosecretario de = "Assistant Secretary of” (p. 121); a translation of this term is not easily found elsewhere.

Translator's notes by the author
Placed at the end of each contract, these include variant translations and explanations of terms that are untranslatable because the concept does not exist in the target system. For the latter, plain language equivalents are included.

I was pleased to note that in the English translations the author uses the masculine pronoun to include the feminine gender as well. This is, of course, a personal choice, up to the translator or the client.

In translating the articles of a certain type of business organization in Argentina that does not exist in the U.S. (p. 301), the original term is retained with an explanatory footnote. A sociedad de capital e industria, with the abbreviation SCI after the company name, is "a type of limited partnership in which one or more partners invest money and are personally liable for partnership debts, and one or more partners invest services and are personally liable only [up] to the extent of undistributed partnership profits." This original definition from Contratos II is the one used in Tom West's Spanish-English Dictionary of Law and Business, indispensable to all Spanish and English legal translators.

In a Revocación de Poder from Venezuela (p. 336), a translator might be at a loss as to the best translation of the opening words, Primer Testimonio. When we look at the English translation on the opposite page, we find "First Certified Copy." At the end of the document, the author translates copia simple as "informal copy," seemingly in contradiction. West's "uncertified copy" or "plain photocopy" do not fit here either, since we are dealing with a first certified copy.

To the excellent bibliography the author has compiled I would like to add, for those who translate into English, William C. Burton's Legal Thesaurus, now in its fourth edition. It is useful for suggesting related ideas to a translator searching for the mot juste.

Don't be put off by the occasional British spelling found in the author's text; changes into U.S. English are easy enough, for example, speaking of notaries: "requirements for practising…" (p. 43).

Overall evaluation
The copy reviewed was impossibly difficult to consult as there was no way to keep the book open. The author assured me that the version now on the market comes in a sewn binding, so you can purchase this book with the assurance that you won't need three hands.

Sharlee Merner Bradley has a doctorate in romance lexicography and has translated for the United Nations. She is a freelance translator of French and Spanish into English, and is secretary of ATA's Dictionary Review Committee. Contact: