By 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 compiled in two e-books/paperbacks, here: 50 English Tips for Spanish Professionals and More English Tips for Spanish Professionals.

project

Let’s find out whether the Spanish word proyecto always translates as project.

Or whether sometimes it is a false friend.

(Spoiler alert: it is).

You’ve probably seen examples of where proyecto in Spanish translates as something different in English – proyecto de ley is a bill, for instance. Bills are laid before Parliament before they become law, known as Acts of Parliament. An anteproyecto de ley is a draft bill.

In which of A – D below is “project” used correctly?

A Please send us a copy of the Project of the Articles of Association so that we can review it
B Tenant is entitled to carry out fit-out works in accordance with the pre-approved preliminary project attached to the lease agreement (the “Project”)
C Every renewable energy project comes with its own complex set of competing environmental concerns
D Report on the Common Merger Project issued by the Board of Directors

The Oxford English Dictionary describes the noun project as:

“An individual or collaborative enterprise that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim”.

A project is a larger enterprise, not just a document.

So A is wrong because proyecto here means, in English, a draft (of a particular document):

A Please send us a copy of the Project of the draft articles of association so that we can review it

B is also wrong. Proyecto here refers to another kind of document – plans/designs:

B Tenant is entitled to carry out fit-out works in accordance with the pre-approved preliminary project plans attached to the lease agreement (the “Project” “Plans”)

C is correct – the “enterprise” here is building a renewable energy plant.

C Every renewable energy project comes with its own complex set of competing environmental concerns [CORRECT]

D is the most common mistranslation of proyecto out there. It is an interesting example of how false friends proliferate.

In the European Cross-Border Mergers Directive, what are known as the “common draft terms of cross-border merger” (in the UK, “draft terms of merger”) are translated in the Spanish version as proyecto común de fusión transfronteriza. Back in Spain, bad translators (ahem) have failed to consult the original Directive and mistranslated this term back to English as “common project”.

D Report on the Common Merger Project common draft terms of merger issued by the Board of Directors
Share This