Reconceptualising the Third Space of Legal Translation: A Study of the Court of Justice of the European Union

Comparative Legilinguistics Vol 45/2021

34 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021

See all articles by Edward Clay

Edward Clay

University of Birmingham

Karen McAuliffe

University of Birmingham - Birmingham Law School; Université du Luxembourg

Date Written: February 01, 2021

Abstract

This paper explores the concept of legal translation as a Third Space through the lens of the ‘multilingual’ Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ). In many ways legal translation at that Court fits readily with the characterisation of translation as a Third Space. Due to complex internal production processes the ECJ produces texts which are undoubtedly hybrid in nature, and which exhibit distinctive features on a lexical and textual level marking them out as a product of cross-fertilisation of influences from source and target languages and legal cultures. Even the teleological approach taken towards legal reasoning at the ECJ occupies a space outside the strict confines of the texts involved. Both the processes and the product of the ECJ’s language system appear to bear all the hallmarks of translation as a Third Space. However, translation at the ECJ also challenges the concept of a Third Space. The prevailing definitions of translation as a Third Space fail to effectively conceptualise additional nuances of the specific nature of drafting and the complex nature of translation at the ECJ. This paper uses original empirical data to demonstrate that translation at the ECJ places constraints on the undefined, vague and fluid nature of the Third Space, warping the forces at work within that space. In this regard, rather than an amorphous space, the Third Space is better thought of as a determinate area which is delimited by elements of translation process which constrain it. This adapted framing of the Third Space can consequently be used to better understand and illustrate the dynamics at play in other areas of legal translation where the current concept of the Third Space is equally inadequate for encompassing the specific nature of translation practices which impact on that space-in-between.

Keywords: legal translation, translation theory, translators, ECJ, CJEU, legal cultures, Third Space, teleological interpretation

Suggested Citation

Clay, Edward and McAuliffe, Karen, Reconceptualising the Third Space of Legal Translation: A Study of the Court of Justice of the European Union (February 01, 2021). Comparative Legilinguistics Vol 45/2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3808109

Edward Clay

University of Birmingham ( email )

Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT
United Kingdom

Karen McAuliffe (Contact Author)

University of Birmingham - Birmingham Law School ( email )

Edgbaston
Birmingham, AL B15 2TT
United Kingdom

Université du Luxembourg ( email )

L-1511 Luxembourg
Luxembourg

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