Hidden Meanings in Legal Spanish - 2

January 7, 2015

Entender

 

Every beginning Spanish student learns that entender means "to understand." After all, no entiendo (I don't understand) is one of the most useful phrases in a beginner's repertoire when he or she is confronted with a native speaker talking at full speed. Unfortunately, though, most students don't go on to learn about the second meaning of entender, one that is particularly important in legal Spanish. If we start from the phrase a mi entender ("in my opinion"), where entender is used as a noun and means "opinion," it is easy to see that the verb entender can also mean "to opine, to believe, to think" and is a synonym of opinar and creer. Here is a simple example: yo entiendo que deberíamos esperar un poco más means "In my view, we should wait a little longer" or "As I see it, we should wait a little longer" or "I think we should wait a little longer" but not "I understand that we should wait a little longer."

 

Here is an example from legal language, taken from a brief submitted by a lawyer in Spain: Esta parte entiende que esta manera de proceder no es ajustada al procedimiento previsto en el artículo 61 del Real Decreto 1065/2007, en donde se establece la colaboración entre las Autoridades Fiscales de diversos países. In other words, "this party believes" or "this party is of the opinion" that the approach is not consistent with procedure established in Section 61 of Royal Decree 1065/2007.

 

In other legal contexts, entender can be translated as "to find": La sentencia del Supremo entiende que el cónyuge más necesitado en este caso es la esposa, que durante el matrimonio se dedicó exclusivamente al cuidado de la familia, y cuya carencia de titulación y experiencia professional limitan sus posibilidades de acceso al mercado de trabajo. En consecuencia, la sentencia adjudica la vivienda a la esposa hasta que tenga lugar la liquidación del régimen económico matrimonial. The translation of this sentence can start with "The Supreme Court finds that…." Note that it is clearly not saying that the Supreme Court "understands" this proposition.

 

Finally, the reflexive form of the verb (entenderse) is used in the definitions section of contracts and statutes. Consider the way "trademark" is defined: Se entiende por marca todo signo susceptible de representación gráfica que sirva para distinguir en el mercado los productos o servicios de una empresa de los de otras. This can be translated as follows: "Trademark" means any sign able to be represented graphically and used to distinguish in the market the goods or services of one company from those of other companies. It would be unnatural (and wrong) to translate this as "By Trademark XYZ is meant."

Please reload

Featured Posts

Our new Trilingual Swiss Law Dictionary

May 15, 2017

1/10
Please reload

Recent Posts