Latin terms and legal translation services.

Ever looked at a legal document and got blurry eyes at the sight of all the Latin ‘legalese’?

Latin has such prevalence in legal language as ancient Rome’s legal system. Their legal system has had a strong influence on the systems of most western countries. As the Romans conquered nation after nation they taught the ‘barbarians’ their latin ways. How to think, act and be like the Romans. After the collapse of the Empire, many of the new orders who took over after the Romans left kept hold of and gradually adapted the existing legal system.

If you work in the legal translation services industry, especially working with English (UK or US) as a source or target language, it is vital that you understand these terms. Legal translation is a challenging job at the best of times. If you are from a country where the legal system does not utilise these terms it is important that you are aware of them.

Here’s a list of a few of the more commonly used terms

I’m sure you’ll recognise some of them:-

Latin: AffidavitOriginal meaning: he pledgedModern meaning: a sworn, written statement
Latin: bona fideOriginal meaning: (in) good faithModern meaning: sincere, genuine
Latin: habeas corpusOriginal meaning: may you have the bodyModern meaning: bring a person before a court
Latin: per diemOriginal meaning: per day, by the dayModern meaning: daily
Latin: pro bonoOriginal meaning: for the goodModern meaning: done for free for the public good
Latin: status quoOriginal meaning: the existing condition or state of affairsModern meaning: how things are currently
Latin: sub poenaOriginal meaning: under the penaltyModern meaning: an order commanding a person to appear in court under a penalty for not appearing
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Although legal language can look like a minefield, we are on hand to help. We have translators who specialise in legal to assist with any document needs.
Have you come across any others whilst working as in the legal translation services industry?

For more information on legal translation, visit our legal translation services page.