Department of English and American Studies. English Language and Literature. Translation of Terminology in EU Legislative Texts

Masaryk University Faculty of Arts Department of English and American Studies English Language and Literature Jan Beneš Translation of Terminology in EU Legislative Texts Bachelor s Diploma Thesis Supervisor:
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Masaryk University Faculty of Arts Department of English and American Studies English Language and Literature Jan Beneš Translation of Terminology in EU Legislative Texts Bachelor s Diploma Thesis Supervisor: PhDr. Jarmila Fictumová 2008 I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently, using only the primary and secondary sources listed in the bibliography... Author s signature 2 Acknowledgement I would like to express many thanks to my supervisor, PhDr. Jarmila Fictumová, for her valuable comments, helpful suggestions and the time that she devoted to supervising my thesis. 3 Table of Contents Introduction Terminology: origins, uses, and relevance for translation The origins of terminology What is terminology and who are its users? Standardization of terminology Neology and neonymy Terminology and translation Legal English Legal language and legal translation Legal English and its features The European Union: history, legislation, and terminology History of the EU EU legislation, drafting, and multilingualism Terminology in EU legislative texts Translating terminology in EU legislative texts: problems, issues, solutions Alcaraz and Hughes: threefold classification of legal lexicon, and problems Deborah Cao s typology of problems Legal conceptual issues Legal system-bound words Ordinary vs. legal meaning Linguistic and legal uncertainty EU Terminology neology and neonymy Conclusion Introduction The aim of this thesis is to discuss translation of terminology in EU legislative texts as a specific and complex translation issue which, in several attributes, diverges from the issue of legal terminology translation in general. In this way, the thesis sets to present translation of terminology in EU legislative texts as a multifaceted phenomenon. The thesis posits that although the terminology used in EU legislation written in English embodies widely recognized problems of translating legal terminology, the translation process of this terminology is different from the one related to general legal language, not only to English. The reasons for this distinction are, as the thesis argues, that EU legislation is drafted by lawyers and other employees of the European Commission for whom English is a non-mother tongue. The European Union and its institutions constitute a multilingual environment and the legislation reflects that fact. Moreover, the legal system of the EU is a composite, a hybrid of the continental Civil and the English Common Law and thus, new legal concepts have to be either adopted in the legal and language systems of the member states or new legal concepts have to be and are created in the form of neologisms. This also brings about the issue of standardization of EU terminology such a task is difficult to achieve and it is briefly addressed in the thesis as well. Another issue the thesis points out is that the EU represents a political arena and the language as well as terminology of legislative texts mirrors this fact. Vagueness of terms is the result of political compromises. The above-mentioned facts make the translation of EU legislative terminology written in English complex and difficult. 1 The first section of the thesis explains what the word terminology stands for, how it is used in academic and linguistic discourse and, more importantly, what its relevance for translation and translation studies is. In the following section, the issue of legal English is discussed. In order to show how translation of terminology (and language) in EU legislation written in English differs from the translation of English legal language and texts, the thesis points out the main characteristics and features of legal English. The third section of the thesis offers a brief history of the EU and then proceeds with major features present in EU legislation written in English as well as with the issue of EU terminology. Subsequently, the thesis intends to put EU legislation terminology in the general framework of translation issues associated with legal terminology. Further on, the thesis turns to several other problems that are emblematic of EU legislation terminology, such as the issue of neology. In conclusion implications and solutions for the translation of EU legislation terminology are summed up. 1. Terminology: origins, uses, and relevance for translation In this section of the thesis, terminology as a term and as an academic field is introduced. Brief origins and incentives for the rise of terminology are outlined and the major differentiation of the usage of the term is presented. Users of terminology are described too. The section also offers an overview of the discussion on how terms and words are differentiated, and also on what neology and standardization are. The section concludes with pointing out the relationship between terminology and translation. 2 1.1 The origins of terminology Terminology as a new discipline emerged with the progress and development that came about in the first half of the 20 th century: Rapid technological progress led to an explosion of new concepts which needed to be named. The internalization of trade created a need for equivalent terminology in a range of languages. With the formulation and dissemination of new ideas, new terminology was being coined [ ] It was becoming clear that the speed of technological progress was such that it was no longer possible to control the naming of new concepts and there was a danger that the same concept might be named differently by different communities creating confusion and communication difficulties. (Pearson 9) The standardization of language of particular domains was then a logical step and so the first institutions such as the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) or later on the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) were established (ibid.) and the discipline of terminology gained gradual credibility and relevance. 1.2 What is terminology and who are its users? Terminology is a specific area of linguistics. Its specificity lies mainly in its treatment of terms as opposed to words. In Teresa Cabré s words, for terminology, terms are of interest on their own account [as opposed to the usage of words only in context] and neither inflection [ ] nor syntax [ ] are of consequence (Cabré 33). She then adds yet another general observation and differentiation between words and terms: Pragmatics is the factor that most significantly differentiates terms from words. Pragmatically, terms and words differ with respect to their users, the situations in which they are used, the topics they communicate, and the type of 3 discourse in which they usually occur (ibid. 36). The term terminology itself is a rather ambiguous and polysemic word. The main uses of this word are three: The principles and conceptual bases that govern the study of terms The guidelines used in terminographic work The set of terms of a particular special subject (Cabré 32; also see Pearson 1998 or Wills 1999) In this way, terminology can be generally described in 3 ways (for a wider classification of what else may constitute terminology, see Wilss 1999). In this thesis, however, the term related to the third concept in Teresa Cabré s classification is used. To explain this usage more clearly, terminology in this sense is the collection of words which one would normally associate with a particular discipline. These may be nouns, verbs, adjectives or adverbs which are considered to have a clearly defined meaning when used in the context for which they have been defined (Pearson 9). To put it into the legal, and more importantly, EU context, legal terminology is the vocabulary used when speaking or writing about law as well as when participating in the legal processes. The EU legal terminology is then the vocabulary that is found in the European law and used in drafting the EU legislation, and in lawsuits concerned with this particular type of law. However, in legal and EU legislation language, the terms that are said to form the lexicon of this field were not and are not always defined primarily to be used in this context and this is where the vagueness and ambiguity, polysemy and synonymy in the translation process emerge and cause problems. To continue with, the users of terminology and of the tools invented and introduced for storing terminological data can be, according to Teresa Cabré, 4 divided into two main groups. These are the direct users, and intermediaries who use terminology to facilitate communication for other users (11). To elaborate more on these two groups, Cabré goes on to explain that the direct users of terminology are the specialists in each subject field. For them, terminology is a necessary tool for communication and an important element for conceptualizing their own subject matter (ibid.). The other group, the intermediaries, these are language professionals like translators, technical writers, and interpreters who need terminology to carry out their profession of facilitating communication. They need glossaries and specialized dictionaries because they assist in technical writing or in translating a text from one language to another (ibid. 12). The issue of the users of terminology is crucial for understanding how terminology is used in and what its role in communication is. This is where the differentiation between the concepts of general and specialized communication and that between language for general or special purposes (LGP and LSP respectively) is introduced. For Teresa Cabré, specialized communication differs from general communication in two ways: in the type of oral or written texts it produces, and in the use of a specific terminology (47). To continue with, in specialized texts, concision, precision, and suitability are the relevant criteria [and] terminology plays a major role in achieving these three objectives (ibid.). As a result then, according to Cabré, specialized communication is the communication wherein terminology is one of the major features (for more information on the subject of LSP, see Bowker and Pearson 2002). To offer another distinct view on the cohesion between communication, users and terminology, Jennifer Pearson claims in her book Terms in Context that there exists no usable definition of term (8). She suggests that a distinction between 5 words and terms is futile without reference to the circumstances in which they are used (ibid.). Thus, she suggests that all language used in certain communicative settings is potentially terminological, unless otherwise demonstrated (ibid.). However, later on she proposes the concept of communicative settings where the expert-expert communication a concept resembling Cabré s specialized communication as one of the types of communicative settings is described as particular communicative context [that] is likely to be the one with the highest density of terms (Pearson 37). Conversely, she also, though with certain reservations, writes about terminology and its users as a vocabulary used mainly in specialized communicative setting (LSP in other words) and primarily by specialists (direct users and intermediaries). In presenting the discussion on how terms and words can be differentiated, and consequently how and where terminology is used and thus constituted, the aim of the thesis is to point out the major features of terminology as a specialized vocabulary. Taking Pearson s reservations into account, terminology and terms are first and foremost used in specialized communication, in law and legal contexts and by specialists such as lawyers, legislators and linguists; but they may also appear in more general communicative settings and be used by non-experts. EU terminology is mainly used in an expert-expert communication setting in the European Commission where legislation drafts are prepared. 1.3 Standardization of terminology The term standardization of terminology refers both to establishing some forms of language by means of self-monitoring and to the intervention of an appropriate organization in order to establish preferences for some forms over others (Cabré 199). It entails several operations such as the unification of concepts and concept 6 systems, the definition of terms, the reduction of homonymy, the elimination of synonymy, the fixing of designations [ ] and the creation of new terms (Cabré 200). In the European Union context as well as in the legal one in general, some of these operations are not and cannot be carried out, not least in their entirety. A case in point is the reduction of homonymy and synonymy which is, according to Deborah Cao (2007), one of the major problems in translating legal terminology. On the other hand, another extreme in the form of proliferation of new terms is common in the EU environment as new agendas and policies are created. As for the purpose of standardization of terms, the aim is to aid communication in special languages (Cabré 200). Teresa Cabré also stresses that standardization cannot be carried out without the intervention of subject specialists [ ] Though it is regularly revised, standardized terminology must give the impression of stability (ibid.). The element to add to that is also the consistency of terminology. One more point that Cabré mentions is that terminological standardization requires prior preparation (ibid.). This is debatable in the EU context because with new agendas, new terms are handily introduced, translated into the 23 member state languages and thus standardized without the process of legitimating process that translators, linguists, and terminologists in particular root for (for discussion on terminological standardization, see Pearson 1998). 1.4 Neology and neonymy From a linguistic point of view, neology refers to the appearance of new words or lexical neologisms (Cabré 204). However, this field of study can also be approached from a cultural or political viewpoint and may thus refer to yet another four different activities (ibid.). The term neologism in its lexical meaning is associated with general language (LGP) mentioned above. Terminological 7 neologisms are called neonyms: they are monoreferential, more descriptive, longer than single words, and durable (Cabré 207). Neonyms as new terms are very common in the EU context and pose one of the major problems in the translation of terminology. One general point needs to be added to the issue of neology. Among the terms which are put into an official glossary or into a dictionary of terms, there may appear terms which were only placed into the dictionary during, not prior to, the making of it as they are for example equivalents of newly termed concept in another language. These, however, cannot be considered terms which form a part of a subject s terminology until such decision is carried out officially by terminologists (Machová 134). 1.5 Terminology and translation Translation facilitates communication between speakers of different languages it is a process whereby texts and utterances in one language are translated into other languages. In translation, as words and sentences are transformed from one language (source language, SL) into another (target language, TL), the problem of equivalence between the two languages in question arises. Apart from stylistic issues, equivalence is the major practical as well as philosophical question in translation and translation studies. As Enrique Alcaraz and Brian Hughes (2002) sum up Eugene A. Nida s view, semantic equivalence is an essential prerequisite for effective translation (23) (for more on equivalence and translation, see Baker 1992, or Newmark 1991). With regard to terminology, the problem of equivalence at the word level is the most visible one: terminology is the most visible and striking linguistic feature of [ ] technical language, and it is also one of the major sources of difficulty in 8 translating (Cao 53). In general, therefore, translating terminology is one of the biggest obstacles that the translators of technical texts and documents have to face. Also, it is the main link between terminology and translation. Knowledge of the source and target languages are necessary prerequisites for proper translation and, in technical translation, translation implies understanding the source text and this requires knowledge of the specific terms of the source and target languages [as well as] some familiarity with the subject matter (Cabré 47). This is the very basis of the relation between terminology and, predominantly technical, translation. As Jennifer Pearson s suggestion above shows, terminology is present in any kind of communication and thus knowledge of some terminology is necessary in every translation task. In technical translation and therefore in LSPs such as legal English or EU legislation in English, both in-house and freelance translators employ translation tools and data banks that help them with the technical terminology of a particular subject they are faced with. Data banks of terms are structured collection[s] of information about the units of meaning and designation of a special subject field addressed to the needs of a specific group of users [ ] Their primary purpose is to facilitate translation by giving translators a one-stop, user-friendly tool for queries that includes several dictionaries and is capable of providing reliable suggestions (Cabré ). In this way, terminological data banks are yet another bond between terminology and translation, and their existence suggests the importance of terminology and the translator s knowledge and usage of it when translating technical texts. A third connection between terminology and translation, inherently connected to the previous one, is the role of terminology in language services of international and 9 supranational organizations such as the United Nations (UN) or the EU. Terminology in language services of such organizations is needed for naming the innovations and neologisms that are constantly developed e.g., the new agendas and policies of the EU. It is also necessary for communication, be it via documents and texts, or in spoken word. Along with the syntax and format of the written communication, terminology is one of the major elements of such documents (Cabré 219). Multilingualism in the UN or the EU then, logically, requires multilingual terminology: In multilingual situations, translators need the assistance of terminologists for answering questions about specific cases of equivalents between languages. Multilingual terminology is fundamental for accurate translation of technical documents (ibid.). This is, again, where translation and terminology converge. Teresa Cabré claims that all such organizations have two types of professionals involved with terminology: (a) the subject field specialists and translators and interpreters who assist them in communication in foreign languages, and (b) terminologists, but also linguists, lexicographers, information scientists and language planners (220). In the EU, a dissimilar relation between the terminologist and the translator emerges. In the EU legislation drafting, the person drafting the particular piece of legislation does usually speak and write in English, yet it is not his/her mother tongue and the terminology along with the syntax of the final text may be influenced by the person s mother tongue. As Wolfgang Teubert claims in Bengt Altenberg s Lexis in Contrast (2002), in the case of the EU documents [ ] it is often impossible to say which is the original text and which is the translation [ ] Earlier drafts may well have been written in Spanish or German or other EU languages (205). Teubert holds that for example the French version [of a draft] 10 [ ] differs from the legal and administrative language used in France [ ] [T]he legal and administrative language used in the European Commission is a special jargon on its own, and the
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