‘El inglés jurídico’ – a book about the English legal language

ALCARAZ, Enrique. El inglés jurídico. Barcelona: Editorial Ariel, 2002.

El ingles jurídico is a book about the English legal language aimed at Spanish translators and law students interested in the English legal system and its equivalences — if any — with the Spanish system. Outstanding as a book might be, it’s no good when it’s outstandingly badly written. In my struggle to understand Alcaraz’s educational strategies I came to these conclusions:

Boring legal content inside.

Boring legal content inside.

Giving the translated term (término) next to the original in the text is a simple and effective way to teach it. I take his point on this, since glossaries (glosarios) at the end of the text make the reader stop constantly to check them. They are, nevertheless, better than overusing (abusar) in-text translations (traducciones), which (las cuales) mutilate (mutilan) the text forcing the reader (lector) to go through whole paragraphs several times so as to eliminate interferences and understand the text.

Footnotes1 are also worth mentioning. Translation footnotes2 are useful; and so are explanatory footnotes3, sometimes. However, they occasionally — meaning quite often — take up more space than the main text or refer to footnotes that refer back to the first one.

On the other side, Alcaraz must be congratulated for the well organised structure of the book, which makes the reading much easier. Regarding to content — what’s important in the end —, there’s little I can say. It’s not that I haven’t read the book [I had to read it for the legal translation subject at university]; I just lack legal knowledge background. The chapter on translation is, unfortunately, too short and the examples are either repetitive or poor.

Despite not being my favourite book and costing as much as the whole The Lord of the Rings trilogy, it comes handy as a sort of a bilingual legal dictionary. The funniest thing of the book is to find Charles Dickens’ name translated as Carlos Dickens. Why did Alcaraz do that? Or why didn’t he try and translate his surname too? Was it modesty, maybe?

1footnote: nota al pie
2See footnote 1.
3Footnotes that explain things, maybe using equally complex words and concepts, but they explain things.

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