Por Nick Potter
In this series we look at real-life examples of the most common mistakes in English by native Spanish lawyers. These and lots more invaluable tips are available in a new e-book/paperback, here: 50 English Tips for Spanish Professionals.
Those false friends just keep coming – and not just on social media.
Let’s look at two terms commonly used by lawyers – defender and pretender.
Unfortunately defender in Spanish doesn’t always mean defend.
In which of A – C below is “defend” used correctly?
|A||We sent a letter to the CNE defending that they needed authorisation|
|B||The government defended its actions|
|C||We are defending that no joint control over the company exists|
In English the verb “to defend” is only used with an object:
- The firm defended its policy
- We shall defend our island
- A lawyer who defends political prisoners
Or, no object:
- Nottingham Forest forced Real Madrid to defend (I like to fantasise).
So only B is correct. In A and C defender means to argue:
|A||We sent a letter to the CNE defending arguing that they needed authorisation|
|B||The government defended its actions [CORRECT]|
|C||We are defending arguing that there is no joint control over the company|
A common mistake is to translate para defender que as “to defend that”. “Defend” and “that” do not go together, unless “that” means esa/ese or aquel/aquello/aquella and refers to an object e.g. it’s impossible to defend that performance by the team.
Translate para defender que as to argue that (something is the case). Other possibilities: to support that or (to courts or other authorities) to plead that.
Now let’s look at when you shouldn’t “pretend” to do things.
Pretender, according to the Royal Academia Española, means:
- tr. Querer ser o conseguir algo.
- tr. Hacer diligencias para conseguir algo.
- tr. Dicho de una persona: Cortejar a otra.
Pretend, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means:
- [with clause or infinitive] behave so as to make it appear that something is the case when in fact it is not.
- [no object] (pretend to) lay claim to (a quality or title).
Question: Which of A – C below is correct?
|A||They pretended to be asleep|
|B||They pretend to include the accrued property tax (IBI) in the new amounts claimed|
|C||The company pretends to exercise the option as soon as possible once the Offer is settled|
A is correct – they were not asleep, but they pretended to be (pretend here means fingir in Spanish).
B and C are wrong – pretender has been mistranslated because it refers to intention:
|A||They pretended to be asleep [CORRECT]|
|B||They pretend intend to include the accrued property tax (IBI) in the new amounts claimed|
|C||The company pretends intends to exercise the option as soon as possible once the Offer is settled|
Note: You can see a correct translation of pretender on a daily basis, at the end of emails that you receive:
Spanish: Si usted no es el destinatario al que se pretende hacer llegar esta comunicación…
English: If you are not the intended recipient of this email…