The website menu proudly let us know there is a Spanish version. “Español” or “Hablamos español.” Sometimes, “Espanol,” typed by someone who does not know ñ is Alt + 164, or that Ñ is Alt + 165, and who probably does not know much Spanish either.

Whatever the name on the menu, it is sad to say that we have yet to find a law firm, even ones owned by Hispanic attorneys, whose Spanish would be hard pressed to receive a grade better than a C minus in a lower division class. In short, law firms’ website Spanish sucks!

Spelling and accent mark errors that change the meaning of words, formal and informal modes of address that change verb forms and culturally can be insulting to the client, noun and adjective position and agreement, wrong handling of passive voice, and generally using what we call an anglicized version of Spanish that ends up producing:

  1. Nonsense

  2. A meaning opposite to what was intended.

  3. An impossible grammatical structure.

  4. A possible structure, but not natural or the preferred one.

  5. A different register or level of formality.

It is obvious, not only that the translation to Spanish was not done by a professional, but also that the law firm did not even bother to have anyone who really knows Spanish proofread the site. This damages the firm’s credibility in the eyes of potential clients.

Furthermore, misspellings and grammatical mistakes an illiterate person would make are unworthy of law firms, particularly ones whose practice include immigration, business with Mexico, family law, personal injury, car accidents, or any other area for which Spanish speaking persons are potential clients.

Relying on bilingual paralegals or assistants who are not trained translators or whose level of bilingualism is not high enough in both languages is law firms unloading on them an onerous task to save money by avoiding hiring professional translators.

Excusing poor Spanish by perhaps claiming that the Latino clients are uneducated is an insult to that community. The Spanish version of a website should be in as correct a language as the English version. We ask nothing less of any other profession.

By José L. Varela-Ibarra, Spanish Ph.D. The University of Texas at Austin, United States Courts Certified Interpreter & Translator, and Web Master is the Editor & Publisher of the Law Sites Quarterly Review, where law firms can see critiques and ratings of their websites.


AMLO is how Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador is affectionally called. He is a morning person who holds press briefings at 7:00 am. Listening to him on television, I always thought he would be easy to interpret. AMLO speaks s-l-o-w-l-y.

Mexican sign language interpreters, however, find him challenging. It is not a question of speed, or lack thereof, but of the numerous sayings, colloquialism, idiomatic expressions, and slang he uses.

A Prensa Latina article dated June 10. 2021 by Eduard Ribas (Spain’s EFE News Agency Mexico City correspondent), mentioned 3 used by AMLO: 1) este gallo quiere maíz, 2) mi pecho no es bodega, and 3) me canso, ganso.

Their literal meanings are: 1) this rooster wants corn, 2) my chest is not a warehouse, and 3) goose, I get tired. Of course, intended messages may be: 1) This fellow is looking for a cut or a bribe, 2) Do not expect me to safeguard or keep secret that information, and 3) Is this week’s Translation Challenge, AMLO’s first use of the phrase in this sentence:

En tres años, me canso ganso, estará funcionando el Nuevo Aeropuerto Internacional de México y dos pistas adicionales en la base de Santa Lucía”. (Source:

Best translation, judged by a third-party interpreter & translator, will receive a complimentary copy of one of our publications. Email your entry to Winner and runner ups will be published in our quarterly magazine.

Germán Valdés, a Mexican comedian known as Tin Tan, first used the phrase in Niño Perdido, a 1947 movie: “Me canso ganso dijo un zancudo cuando volar no pudo una pata se le torció y la otra se le hizo nudo, luego le dio aftosa y hasta se quedó mudo. Ya mejor no le sigo porque luego yo sudo”.

By Jose L. Varela-Ibarra, PhD, US Courts Certified, Emeritus professor of Spanish & Translation at San Diego State University’s Imperial Valley Campus and founder and director of the Translation and Interpreting Programs at The University of Texas at Brownsville.

El español al día Editor & Publisher. Spanish Shield Language Services CEO. Former standards setter and examiner for the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators. Leadership Council member of ATA’s, Translation Company Division,

His latest book is The Judiciary Translator. A Comprehensive Guide to Legal Translation. For more information, go to



 El Covid-19 y la pandemia. El virus. ¿Los virus o los viruses?

Translation Challenge. Translate into Spanish: No vaccine will protect us from all viruses. 



When he says “I am fully vaccinated” in English, en español normalmente se dice:


(Your answers can be emailed here. Best responses will be recognized the following week.)