Aims of the project

The central aim of the module is to present the specifics of the EU legal language (so-called “Euro-speak”) to the language students at the second cycle of Bologna studies (translators and interpreters as well as future language teachers at primary and secondary schools) at the Faculty of Arts University of Maribor. In respect of legal language EU can be seen as a specific »jurisdiction«. As the EU is based on an autonomous legal order, the terminology it uses must also be translated and interpreted in an autonomous way. European legislation, however, uses the official national languages of the Member States, the terms of which derive from the national legal systems and therefore often bear their constraints.

Linguistic diversity is a democratic and cultural cornerstone of the EU, recognised in Article 22 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The importance of languages was emphasised in the Council Resolution on linguistic diversity of 14 February 2002 on acknowledging the part played by languages in social, economic and political integration, particularly in an enlarged Europe. On the other hand, linguistic diversity is also one of the operating principles of the European institutions. The Treaty on EU is authentic in each of its official language versions, entitling every citizen to write to any of the institutions in one of these languages and to have an answer in the same language. The Regulation of 6 October 1958 determining the languages to be used by the EEC (as amended) places on an equal footing the official and working languages of the institutions, which are all the languages of the Treaties.

Nevertheless, a good command of ordinary language does not automatically make a student proficient in legal language, much less so in EU legal language. The interaction between the linguistic system of the EU and the national legal systems results in the fact that certain terms change their meaning according to the context in which they appear. Moreover, terms used in directly applicable regulations enter the national legal systems automatically and without transformation, while the wording of directives could – but should not always – be transformed into other terms the national legal system is more receptive to. As before accession Central European countries had to cope with the difficulty to translate and establish the European terminology in their own official languages, and then in receiving it and in having it received at national level they faced the same linguistic challenges that might often lead to serious legal consequences. In this respect some European lawyers have confirmed that a new European legal culture is gradually emerging despite national cultural and linguistic diversity. Italian comparativist Rodolfo Sacco of Turin even stated that the idea of creating a common legal language in Europe found support among legal scholars who strongly believe that a common legal language in Europe cannot be a lingua franca such as English but must be a neutral meta-language with common legal concepts detached from their national laws, legal languages and cultures. In this respect it should for instance be mentioned that the Research Group on the Existing EC Private Law focused its research from 2002 to 2006 on a »Uniform Terminology for European Private Law«. Head of the Group, Professor Ajani of the University of Turin, called the need to develop coherent terminological usage »a crucial step« in the »long march« of the European Union towards the harmonization of private law. As he realized, the heart of the problem is not just incoherent terminological usage but rather the lack of uniform concepts at EU level. In this sense Heutger stressed that »legal harmonisation can be attained only by standardizing legal terms within the European Union«.

In this respect the teaching module will support interdisciplinary approaches of linguistics and law, taking full account of the fact that European integration cannot proceed without paying attention to linguistic matters. The aim of the module is to bring the specifics of the EU law and its legal language closer to the master students of translation and interpretation as well as to those students of foreign languages that aim to become school teachers, thereby endeavouring to raise their interest in EU integration and EU legal language during their studies and in their professional life.