A simple word like any

When translating English legal contracts into German, one word stands out by its predominant use - the word "any". In school, we learn that the German translation of "any" is "irgendein, irgendwelche". In a legal context nothing less could be true. In sentences such as "any legal dispute arising ...." or "any notices should be sent to ...." the use of "irgendein, irgendwelche" would sound totally out of place and make any German reader frown.

Big question

Now, the big question is how should you tackle this word in a legal translation? Well, there are several options depending on ...... the context: In the first example, the best translation would be "etwaige Rechtsstreitigkeiten", in the second example it would be "sämtliche Mitteilungen". Other options - again depending on the context - would be "jegliche, jedwede, alle, allfällige, eventuelle". In some situations, it may also be wise NOT to translate “any” and just use the plural form in German. This may be the case in sentences such as “any patent, design, invention, technology, trade mark ….”. Where “any” is used in combination with “other", I would usually translate it by “sonstige”.

No standard translation

As you can see, there is no standard translation for "any" in German. In each sentence, the translator has to decide what the best option is. One thing, however, is certain: to use "irgendein, irgendwelche" in any of the above sentences would be completely unidiomatic and, therefore, incorrect.