Hybrid Texts and Uniform Law? The Multilingual Case Law of the Court of Justice of the European Union
19 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2013 Last revised: 31 Oct 2019
The case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) is shaped by the language in which it is drafted – i.e. French. However, because French is rarely the mother tongue of those drafting that case law, the texts produced are often stilted and awkward. In addition, those drafting such case law are constrained in their use of language and style of writing (owing to pressures of technology and in order to reinforce the rule of law). These factors have led to the development of a ‘Court French’ which necessarily shapes the case law produced and has implications for its development, particularly insofar as it inevitably leads to a type of precedent in that case law. That case law also undergoes many permutations of translation into and out of up to 23 different languages. The resultant texts that make up the case law are hybrid in nature – consisting of a blend of cultural and linguistic patterns, constrained by a rigid formulistic drafting style and put through many permutations of translation.
The present paper investigates the production of the Court’s multilingual case law and considers whether the hybrid nature of that case law can actually aid the presentation (and thus the development) of a ‘uniform’ EU case law.
Keywords: Court of Justice of the European Union, ECJ, multilingual law, EU law, legal translation, hybrid texts, translation theory
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