Horses for Courses: Legal – Financial Mutualism
We all know the stereotype that lawyers can struggle with numbers. Since I don’t trust stereotypes, I’ll start from the reality that lawyers or legal translators usually encounter financial terminology that calls for some extra research and effort.
By the same token, translators specializing in finance may face challenging legal terms and institutions, especially when working with a source text originating in a legal system other than the target legal system.
Well, I am one of those translators specializing in finance and economics and (more frequently than not) facing the translation of legal concepts that, for me, are often time-consuming.
Although I have exhaustive training in legal translation, I have spent the last ten years “speaking finance” as a banker and then as a financial translator. However, legal terminology keeps popping up in my financial texts, dragging me back to legal translation.
I used to feel an urge to do extensive research on key legal terms and concepts in my source texts. Then I stopped to reflect on the number of times that colleagues have called me to address very specific financial terms or even full financial clauses that were part of a legal document. As a matter of horses for courses, I started seeking guidance from colleagues specializing in the legal field for my own translations. The result was superb: accurate and speedy translations.
I can think of various examples of legal terms that colleagues in my field might have to untangle and will list a few:
- Negative Covenants
- Injunctive Relief
- Res Judicata
After seeking guidance from specialized colleagues, I propose the Spanish versions below (subject to relevant contexts):
- Estoppel: doctrina de los actos propios
- Negative Covenants: obligaciones de no hacer
- Injunctive Relief: orden judicial de abstención o de reparación (distinta de daños y perjuicios)
- Res Judicata: cosa juzgada
On the other hand, as a legal translation specialist, you may encounter the following terms in a clause that describes an institution’s investment strategy in a Service Agreement between your client and said institution:
- Equity Relative Value
- Sell Short (the underlying common stock)
- Matching Order
- Open Outcry
- High Yield Bonds
- Equity Positions
- On Balance Sheet
As a Spanish < > English financial specialist, these terms are all crystal clear to me, and their translations into Spanish (subject to relevant versions) come to my mind more quickly than I can type:
- Equity Relative Value: valor relativo de renta variable
- Sell Short (the underlying common stock): venta en corto (de las acciones ordinarias subyacentes)
- Matching Order: operación de concurrencia
- Open Outcry: a viva voz
- High Yield Bonds: títulos de renta fija de alto rendimiento
- Equity Positions: tenencia de títulos de renta variable
- On Balance Sheet: dentro de la hoja del balance
These examples are just reminders of the way in which working with specialists improves the quality and celerity of our work (the phrase horses for courses seems appropriate to express that idea). Even though this is common knowledge among translators, I aim to emphasize the idea that no matter how specialized we are, we will always need the expertise of another colleague, even for our own translations.
I’d like to expressly advocate for this form of professional mutualism. Outsourcing work or seeking assistance from colleagues with the required specialization, irrespective of how short the text might be (a single word, or a whole clause), will certainly improve the quality and accuracy of our overall translations and present us as effective professionals in the eyes of our clients.
Hence, the next time you feel distressed, anxious, or even suffocated by a technical or specific word in your source text, simply appeal to a connoisseur.
Analía M. Bogdan
Spanish < > English Certified Translator
Special thanks to attorney and translator Romina Redondo for her insight and support in writing this post.
Analía Bogdan is a certified English<>Spanish translator graduated from the University of Buenos Aires, she worked in the financial industry for ten years before becoming a professional translator. She has a postgraduate course in Capital Markets Financing Structures and is certified as a Mutual Funds advisor. Analía has been a member of the Buenos Aires Translators Association for over 7 years, where she is currently the Coordinator of the Finance Division (5 years), and a member of the Technological Division (7 years). Analía gave several courses and talks related to technology applied to translation, banking, and finance for translators. She has published several articles in academic publications, including ATA´s Spanish Division Publication “Intercambios”, and has recently been confirmed as speaker of the ATA 60TH Annual Conference. Her main customers are big international financial groups and legal firms specialized in finance.