“Probation” in every language, part 2

More of Franco Gamero’s thoughts on the term probation and its international use.

After the experience in Argentina, I began to do Research on Probation. It is an accepted method by the United Nations and was initially accepted by many countries as far back as 1959.

Conclusions of my research:

The word PROBATION should NOT be translated and should be used in English only.

One of the UN documents contains the official terminology that all interpreters should note, i.e.,

The Tokyo Rules

Shock Probation, etc.

These findings might shock many interpreters just as much as I was shocked realizing the global used of this word and concept.

Here is a website that addresses this.

UN Probation and Parole website (the official website)

Here are some PDF downloads on the issue:

International Probation

Probation in Argentina

Editor: The issue of probation and what term to use for it still appears to be sticky in many languages as international standards for probation sentences evolve. Some languages have traditionally had just one term that covers both probation and parole, and in recent years some of them have adopted a term specifically for probation (for example Czech probace, which doesn’t appear in dictionaries from 10 years ago).

Franco’s assertion that the English word probation should be left untranslated may be a bit too sweeping for all languages, however. Some languages have various ways of expressing the concept without resorting to a foreign word. German is an example, and it’s a good illustration of why popular online sources should not completely take the place of professionally compiled dictionaries. While a search of the popular LEO German-English dictionary produces the term Bewährung for both probation and parole, the good old paper-and-ink PONS Fachwörterbuch Recht gives the precise term Strafaussetzung zur Bewährung for probation and bedingte Entlassung for parole. These terms have the benefit of being both precise and intelligible to people who don’t know English legal terminology.

Franco adds:

I would like your comments about this very important word. I am doing research on others.

Franco’s e-mail address is available in the MiTiN directory.


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