Prepositions in legal texts/Präpositionen in englischen Rechtstexten

Renee Perelmutter, in glosses.net, recounts the story of Maksim Grek, a Greek translator who was found guilty in 1525 of deliberately corrupting Bible translations (hmm, guilty of, not guilty for…)

bq. When one reads these translations, the most visible evidence of Maksim’s non-Slavic origin is prepositions: from time to time Maxim uses a calque translation from Greek rather than the correct Russian preposition.

Prepositions were always a big problem in legal English for my German students. So I offer the following test sentences – solution (there may be more than one) to follow:Add the correct preposition (mine are British English):
1. to be eligible ….. parole
2. to sentence someone ….. a term of imprisonment
3. to impose a term of imprisonment ….. someone
4. to make money from dealing ….. heroin
5. to write a book dealing ….. family law
6. I wrote a cheque ….. £20
7. The inheritance shall accrue ….. the beneficiary when he reaches the age of 25.
8. She was charged ….. murder and found guilty ….. manslaughter.
9. He was accused ….. inciting others ….. arson.
10. They were convicted ….. theft but acquitted ….. robbery.
11. She was indicted ….. forgery.
12. A warrant has been issued ….. his arrest.
13. Who is the other party ….. the contract?
14. They have sent me an invoice ….. £150.
15. I have an account ….. the National Westminster bank.
16. The money should be paid ….. my account
17. Despite legislation, there is still discrimination ….. women in employment law.
18. to comply with the regulations
19. to be dependent ….. one’s parents
20. to be independent ….. one’s parents
21. She was compensated ….. her loss.
22. The tenant gave three months’ notice ….. the end of 2001.
23. Self-defence is not a defence ….. theft.
24. The prosecution are going to appeal ….. the decision.
25. The company has not yet been entered ….. the Companies Register.
26. He was awarded a two-year sentence suspended ….. probation.
27. A five-year sentence was imposed ….. her.
28. You may be liable ….. negligence / liable ….. tort.
29. Before enforcing the judgment, you will have to pay money ….. court as security for costs.
30. Who is liable ….. the debt?

Copyright Margaret Marks – can be distributed with my name on it!

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6 thoughts on “Prepositions in legal texts/Präpositionen in englischen Rechtstexten

  1. Very entertaining list.

    Brit. lawyers’ favourite copout preposition ‘in respect of’ could be used for almost every answer! In fact, I was encouraged during articles/pupillage to use it to make specific translations deliberately vague.

    May I suggest you add:

    31. different .. something else (AE and BE.)
    32. the insurance company is subrogated … someone … his/her rights.
    33. The umpire concurred … the Russian arbitrator … his/her opinion.

  2. A tantalizing entry at Renee’s Glosses.net recounts in summary fashion the sad tale of Maksim Grek (Maximus the Greek), brought to Russia in the early 16th century to translate religious manuscripts and then imprisoned for years for allegedly corruptin…

  3. Here’s my take on the first one:
    31. different from something else (colloquial AmE different than, colloquial BE different to)
    I wouldn’t use the others in the same way:
    32.(I know ‘subrogated to someone’s rights’ – is it subrogated to someone in his/her rights?
    33. The umpire concurred with the Russian arbitrator in ? his/her opinion (again, I would have said ‘concurred with the Russian arbitrator’s opinion’)

  4. I quite often have to use ‘with respect to’, simply because the connection is not clear in the German, but as you say, it’s certainly a copout. Perhaps I should collect instances where I used it.

  5. Congrats! You got all 3 right.

    As you suggest, common usage of subrogation tends – maybe on the back of subordination of loans, debentures etc. – towards ‘TO s.o.’s rights’. However, the classic insurance (law) explanation of subrogation is stand (subrogated) IN s.o. else’s shoes.

  6. Synchronicity all over again. Ich komme gerade von meiner Lesegruppe und wir haben uns wieder bis weit über die Schmerzgrenze hinaus an griechischen Tragödien und Epen verlustiert. Dann komme ich heim und sehe, daß der Language Hat zur Abwechslung mal …

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