Legal Integration and Language Diversity: Rethinking Translation in EU Lawmaking

ISBN : 9780190680787

C.J.W. Baaij
304 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Mar 2018
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How can the European Union create laws that are uniform in a multitude of languages? Specifically, how can it attain both legal integration and language diversity simultaneously, without the latter compromising the former? C.J.W. Baaij argues that the answer lies in the domain of translation. A uniform interpretation and application of EU law begins with the ways in which translators and jurist-linguists of the EU legislative bodies translate the original legislative draft texts into the various language versions. In the European Union, law and language are inherently connected. The EU pursues legal integration, i.e. the incremental harmonization and unification of its Member States' laws, for the purpose of reducing national regulatory differences between Member States. However, in its commitment to the diversity of European languages, its legislative institutions enact legislative instruments in 24 languages. Language Diversity and Legal Integration assesses these seemingly incompatible policy objectives and contemporary translation practices in the EU legislative procedure, and proposes an alternative, source-oriented approach that better serves EU policy objectives. Contrary to the orthodox view in academic literature and to the current policies of the EU, this book suggests that the English language version should serve as the original and only authentic legislative text. Translation into the other language versions should furthermore avoid prioritizing clarity and fluency over syntactic correspondence and employ neologisms for distinctly EU legal concepts. Ultimately, Baaij provides practical solutions to the conflict between the equality of all language versions, and the need for uniform interpretation and application of EU law.


1 Introduction; 2 Articulating the Task of EU Translation; 3 Formalizing the Primacy of English; 4 The Mixed Approach of Current EU Translation; 5 Considering a Source-Oriented Alternative; 6 The Implementation and Its Challenges; 7 Summary and Conclusions; Annex I: Language Cases (1960-2010); Annex II: Anonymized Table of Interviews

About the author: 

C.J.W. Baaij is a J.S.D. candidate at Yale Law School. Previously, he was Assistant Professor at Amsterdam Law School, where he taught contract law, civil procedure, and legal theory. There, he also obtained his Ph.D. degree, cum laude, for his research on legal integration and language diversity, parts of which he conducted as a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia Law School.

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