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Lost in the Eurofog: The Textual Fit of Translated Law

Second Revised Edition


Łucja Biel

The book is one of the few in-depth investigations into the nature of EU legal translation and its impact on national legal languages. It is also the first attempt to characterise EU Polish, a language of supranational law and a hybrid variant of legal Polish emerging via translation. The book applies Chesterman's concept of textual fit, that is how translations differ from non-translations, to demonstrate empirically on large corpora how the Polish eurolect departs from the conventions of legal and general Polish both at the macrostructural and microstructural level. The findings are juxtaposed with the pre-accession version of Polish law to track the 'Europeanisation' of legal Polish – recent changes brought about by the unprecedented inflow of EU translations.

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Chapter 2. The hybridity of EU discourse and its impact on national languages


Chapter 2 argues that the translation of EU legislation differs in many ways from typical legal translation and is affected by a complex array of political, procedural, and institutional factors which contribute to the overall hybridity of EU discourse. The chapter sets out the conceptual framework for analysing the textual fit of translated EU law by analysing how EU translation is conceptualised in the existing typologies of legal translation, what factors shape the language of EU law and how translated EU law affects national law.

2.1 Challenges of legal translation

Legal translation has been regarded as “the ultimate linguistic challenge”, “combing the inventiveness of literary translation with the terminological precision of technical translation” (Harvey 2002: 177). It is marked by a strong conflict between accuracy and naturalness. As noted by Lew Sapieha in 1588 in his letter commenting on a translation of statutes from Ruthenian, “translation which is linguistically good is likely not to meet fidelity requirements” (quoted in Klemensiewicz 1999: 381, translated by Ł.B.). This conflict is widespread in all types of translation; however, it is escalated in legal translation. Accuracy is of primary importance in legal translation and takes precedence over stylistic considerations (cf. Šarčević: “it is agreed that substance must always prevail over form in legal translation” (2000: 3); for a more detailed discussion see Wolff 2011: 10–11). In more recent approaches, accuracy as to the information content (equivalence) is understood as ‘the presumption of equal intent’ (Šarčevi...

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