Excellentissimo Senhor Doutor Ministro X

birder

Senior Member
Excellentissimo Senhor Doutor Ministro X, D. Relator do recurso especial no. 12345 do E. Superior Tribunal de Justiça

Is there a proper formal way that this gentleman should be addressed in English. "Honorable Doctor Minister" sounds awful.
 
  • englishmania

    Senior Member
    Português Europeu
    I may be wrong, but I don't think you need the 'equivalent', you just need the most common English phrase...


    Bear in mind that doutor in Portugal is used to address 'almost anyone'... doesn't mean they have a phD or that they are doctors.
     

    Carfer

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    As you said above, you are not looking for a direct translation, which indeed would sound awful, but the equivalent title of a supreme court judge (who has the title of 'Ministro' in Brazil). That is a 'Justice' in most of the English speaking jurisdictions (yes, you have an equivalent in North America). So, the right way of addressing an equivalent judge would probably be 'The (Right ) Honourable Mr/Ms Justice X'.
    Titles, especially in the judiciary, vary greatly from country to country or from state to state, even if they speak the same language and belong to the same legal system and that's why literal translations are usually impossible. Actually, that way of addressing a supreme court judge sounds strange to me too, despite the fact that I am a native Portuguese speaker. In Portugal, Supreme Court Judges are named 'Conselheiro' (unabridged 'Juiz Conselheiro'), so our ritual way of addressing such person would be 'Excelentíssimo Senhor Conselheiro relator' ( by the way, 'relator' means 'rapporteur'). And it would not cross my mind to add his or her name, because, the way we see it, it's not the individual we are addressing but the judge in his/her functional capacity, whoever he or she may be. Actually, between the moment an appeal claim is filed with the court and the moment it is considered for trial the judge rapporteur could be a different person (in the meantime, the previous one could have died, retired or been replaced). Of course, this doesn't imply any criticism. it is just the way we do it here. Brazilians have their ways and rightly so, it is their tradition. That's also why I would leave out any criticism about the use of 'doutor'. The title 'doutor' was traditionally added to the word judge ('doutor juiz') when addressing judges. That way of addressing is notoriously receding in Portugal in first instance courts, being replaced by the simpler 'senhor/a juiz' and it was never used here, anyway, to address appeal or supreme courts judges (you may wonder why, but traditions are not easy to explain and they are not always logical). Apparently, it is still in use in Brazil.
    'Doutor' is also a traditional and, by the way, quite ancient title given to people with university degrees (and in some cases, abusively, by people who have none and try to sound important). It's frequently criticized, specially by natives, but it's just a tradition and it is that traditional common usage that legitimates it. Therefore, claims to an exclusive by people who have a doctorate degree don't make much sense, it is not the same thing, it is the same word with a different meaning, just like the English word 'doctor' which has different meanings in medicine and education. Actually, we usually differentiate them in writing, people with doctorate degrees being styled 'Doutor' and all the others 'dr.' The Portuguese speaking countries are not alone in their "weird" usage of titles, other countries have theirs and in our eyes similarly looking strange ways.
     
    Last edited:

    Carfer

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    'Minister' is a Brazilian Supreme Court judge. The proper translation is 'Justice', the equivalent title of a Supreme Court judge in most of the common law jurisdictional systems namely the North American ones. See my previous post.
     

    pfaa09

    Senior Member
    Portugal - Portuguese
    Hi, birder. In European Portuguese, "ministro" is a member of our governement.
    We may adress to our prime minister (António Costa) by: Excelentíssimo senhor, primeiro ministro, António Costa, but we can't do it like: Excelentíssimo senhor doutor primeiro ministro, this is wrong, and we don't use it at all.
    The way I see it, we have to choose between two options.
    1- Excelentíssimo senhor, primeiro ministro António Costa.
    2- Excelentíssimo senhor, doutor António Costa.

    nota: Doutor ou professor, caso de Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa (Presidente da república).

    Primeiro ministro and doutor, together, doesn't fit very well, it is too "heavy" in words.
     

    Carfer

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    The way I see it, we have to choose between two options.
    1- Excelentíssimo senhor, primeiro ministro António Costa.
    2- Excelentíssimo senhor, doutor António Costa.

    nota: Doutor ou professor, caso de Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa (Presidente da república).

    Primeiro ministro and doutor, together, doesn't fit very well, it is too "heavy" in words.
    The protocolar rules about addressing Governement ministers, the Prime-Minister and the President of the Republic, both orally and in writing, command a different way from all other officials:

    Ex:
    'Senhor/a Ministro/a da Justiça (or whatever department he or she is responsible for) ,
    Excelência,'

    or if addresing more than one:

    'Senhor Presidente da República,
    Senhor Primeiro-Ministro,
    Senhor Ministro da Administração Interna,


    Excelências,'

    Names and academic titles tend to be omitted, unless those persons are phisically present when addressing them orally in a formal speech, when their names are sometimes mentioned.
    I guess those formulae tend to be progressively abandoned in favour of the 'Excelentíssimo Senhor X' formula, partly because of a desacralization of power (which in itself is not a bad thing), partly because of lack of knowledge (which in this particular case is not serious either). Failing to follow that protocol is almost inconsequential nowadays.

    Anyway, this thread is about a particular Brazilian meaning of 'Ministro' and their way of addressing a Supreme Court Judge. None is the same in Portugal.
     

    pfaa09

    Senior Member
    Portugal - Portuguese
    Anyway, this thread is about a particular Brazilian meaning of 'Ministro' and their way of addressing a Supreme Court Judge. None is the same in Portugal.
    I am aware of that, but I did want to add the information
     
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