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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 5. Textual fit at the macrostructural level: text-structuring and grammatical patterns


The objective of this quantitative chapter is to analyse the textual fit of translated EU legislation to nontranslated national legislation at the level of generic text-structuring and grammatical patterns. Quantitative data will serve as a basis for qualitative conclusions as to the degree of variance and characteristic features of EU legal Polish — a eurolect. The approach adopted in this project is descriptive (rather than prescriptive) and target-oriented, that is, it takes translations as the starting point of analysis. The analysis will search for trends of divergence and convergence74:

• Areas of difference: untypical distribution of TL patterns

◦ Overrepresentation in translations versus nontranslations

◦ Underrepresentation in translations versus nontranslations

◦ Atypical patterns

• Areas of similarity: similar distribution of TL patterns.

The methodology draws on research into register variation and genre analysis, combined with Biber’s multi-dimensional approach, which analyses multiple parameters of variation at lexical, grammatical and syntactic levels, applying quantitative statistical measures interpreted functionally (quoted in McEnery et al. 2006: 161). Key generic patterns to be examined in the study were identified with corpus-driven methods, by analysing wordlists, keywords and clusters listed by Wordsmith, and were supplemented by patterns identified in the literature review as typical of legal language. Selected generic patterns were tested on the corpus of regulations (R-Acquis) and the corpus of directives (L-Acquis) against the reference corpus of Polish law (PLC). The same features were also tested on the pre-accession (PreA-1999KP) and post-accession (PostA-2011KP) sections of PLC...

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