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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 6. Textual fit at the microstructural level: term-embedding, term-forming and lexical collocations


This chapter analyses the textual fit of translated EU law at the microstructural level to check how term-embedding, term-forming and lexical collocations behave in translation and contribute to the textual fit.

6.1 Clusters: n-grams

The methodology of identifying collocations for the analysis is based on two Wordsmith functions: (1) keywords and (2) clusters. Keywords often indicate components of recurrent patterns (“Frequent words are frequent because they occur in frequent phrases,” Stubbs (2004: 118)). Clusters, better known as lexical bundles and n-grams, are frequent sequences of words which are not always structurally complete and meaningful units (Biber and Barbieri 2007: 264; see Goźdź-Roszkowski (2011: 43–44) for a more detailed discussion). The high frequency of clusters reflects their formulaicity; they are strong indicators of register variation (2007: 265) and “building blocks in discourse” by providing “a kind of pragmatic ‘head’ for larger phrases and clauses, where they function as discourse frames for the expression of new information” (Biber and Barbieri 2007: 270).

There are two methodological issues connected with Polish clusters. The first one concerns their length. As noted ironically by Gries “[c]urrently, n=4 is en vogue” (2010a). 4-grams may be optimal for English; however, not necessarily for Polish, which is a complex inflectional language without definite/indefinite articles. After some tests on English and Polish Acquis, it was decided to include 3-grams for Polish as well. The second issue concerns the frequency cut-off. Although Biber and Barbieri note that...

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