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In conversations about the hardest words or phrases to translate well from Spanish to English, the word "accountability" has repeatedly come up. I have seen the phrase "financial accountability" translated "rendición de cuentas." But what about the word in contexts like:

  • "Keep me accountable with the commitments I've made."
  • "Accountability is important when overcoming addiction."

If there isn't a good short word or pair of words that translates "accountability" well, what longer phrase would be an appropriate translation?

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an alternative "to be accountable to someone" can be "rendir cuentas a alguien". – user10919 Sep 29 '15 at 23:04
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Responsabilidad works in most non-technical contexts (it does for the two cases you mentioned)

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The accepted translation (other than in financial situations: redicion de cuentas) seems to be responsabilidad. The difficulty is that, in English, accountability implies that you are responsible to an outside authority for making sure what you are doing is being done correctly or according to set requirements, or that it gets completed. To add this implication of the English word in Spanish (in translations if or where it may be considered necessary for clarity) we would have to say something like, "responsabilidad ante alguien", or "ante..." (and maybe indicate who the agency or authority is). I would not say culpabilidad because being accountable does not imply guilt or that anything has been or is being done wrong and even if it is something bad, responsabilidad is still used, as in the example of "liability insurance", which is translated as "seguro de responsabilidad civil".

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If it's being accountable for something bad, you could use culpabilidad.

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