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Lost in the Eurofog: The Textual Fit of Translated Law

Second Revised Edition

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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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Introduction

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The language of Europe is translation. Umberto Eco

Translation has been perceived both as an agent of regeneration and degeneration in the history of legal Polish. Since its early phases of development in the Middle Ages, legal Polish has changed to a large extent through contacts, not always voluntary and welcome, with other languages and legal systems — Latin, German, Russian and most recently English. The latest evolution of Polish, an Eastern European language spoken by about 40 million people, is connected with two momentous events in the history of Poland: (i) the fall of Communism in 1989 and transition from a centrally-planned to market economy, and (ii) accession to the European Union (EU) in 2004. As a result, in the last two decades the country has experienced a tide of political, economic, social and cultural changes, facilitated by an unprecedented transfer of know-how, via translation, from Western Europe and Northern America.

This book addresses the second round of changes, resulting from Poland’s accession to the EU. The condition for EU membership was to translate the acquis, the body of EU law, and harmonise national law with EU law. The harmonisation of national law was based directly on translated law. EU-related legal translation, as stressed by Lambert, goes beyond legal issues and has also social, cultural and political implications: “It is (also) about identity, about entering a new world, first of all in terms of discourse, then (later) in terms of rights and commitments” (2009:...

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