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Biel, Łucja (2014). Lost in the Eurofog: The Textual Fit of Translated Law.

Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, pp. 347, € 63.50, ISBN: 978-3-631-6462-7.

This recently published monograph on the translation of EU legislation constitutes a long-awaited and pioneering study which addresses the hitherto neglected areas of EU translation, EU Polish as a Eurolect and the influence it can exert on the language of national law. In particular, it seeks out to answer the question as to whether the Polish of EU law differs from the language of national law and, if so, to what extent and how. Biel formulates the hypothesis that translated EU legislation in Polish is different from non-translated Polish legislation due to reasons related a) to the hybridity of EU discourse, its goals and institutional norms of translating, and b) to the distortions which are typical of the translation process and source language (SL) interference. In order to test these hypotheses, she investigates the textual fit (Chesterman 2004) of EU legislation translated into Polish against the non-translated Polish legislation. She defines textual fit more generically than Chesterman, i.e. as the linguistic distance between translations and non-translations of a comparable genre - in this case national legislation. The analysis is carried out on the basis of a corpus-based methodology, and thus, a large set of data is used, which helps to uncover language patterns in a systematic, reliable and objective way. The analysis bears on both the macrostructure (text-structure and grammatical patterns) as well as on the microstructure level (term-embedding, term-forming and lexical collocations) of the text.

The book is divided into two parts. Part I introduces the theoretical ground for measuring the textual fit and lays out an interdisciplinary conceptual framework for the analysis. It does so by bringing together knowledge from a number of diverse fields such as legal language studies, corpus-based Translation Studies and EU texts translation, thus synthesizing a novel and comprehensive framework which accounts for the breadth of factors and limitations that exists during the translation of EU legal texts and that ultimately leaves its mark on the target text (TT). Chapter 1 looks at the main properties of legal language, placing emphasis on its prefabrication and recurrent patterns that are typical of legislation. Chapter 2 focuses on EU translation as an independent research field; it sheds light into the drafting and translation processes and their impact on the hybridity of both EU and national legislations. Chapter 3 is dedicated to corpus-based methodologies and the value they bring to TS. It also revisits and redefines the concept of textual fit as the linguistic distance between translations and non-translations.

Part II consists of the empirical study into the textual fit of translated EU legislation against non-translated Polish legislation. In particular, Chapter 4 outlines the methodology applied in the study, including the description of the corpora. Chapters 5 and 6 present the results of the analysis, with the former focusing on the textual fit at the macrostructural level and the latter on the textual fit at the microstructural level. The findings are compared and contrasted with the pre-accession version of Polish law in order to assess how the post-accession language changed and whether some changes could have been facilitated by the over- and underrepresentation of particular patterns in translated EU law. Chapter 7, the final chapter, presents an overview of the results and their qualitative interpretation. Not surprisingly, it emerges that the textual fit of EU law is indeed divergent as it clearly departs from the generic conventions of Polish EU law. In fact, a new, distinct, foreignising variety of Polish is born, the so-called Polish Eurolect, which appears to be due to the EU complexity and the need for uniformity in interpretation and application of multilingual law.

The book is one of the few in-depth and systematic investigations into the nature of EU legal translation and its impact on national legal languages. The findings of the study corroborate the findings of similar, though smaller-scale, studies in this area which involve Polish (Niewiadomski 2009), Maltese (Mori 2011), Finnish (Piehl 2006) and Spanish (Álvarez Lata 2013). Biel's findings, in particular, extend those of Álvarez Lata (2013: 1322), who describes the introduction of new legal concepts in Spanish law and the replacement of more traditional ones and those of Niewiadomski (2009: 82), who underscores the Europeanisation of the meaning of Polish legal concepts by their redefinition and adjustment through references to EU law.

In short, this is a very rich book with much to recommend it. It has the advantage of offering a systematic and in-depth investigation of EU legal translation, notably from the perspective of Polish as a Slavonic language, which is genetically different from Romance and Germanic languages. It also explores the impact that EU legal language has on Polish as a national legal language. As such, it constitutes an important contribution to the literature on EU translation and deserves serious contemplation by the Translation Studies community. The bibliographical references are also valuable in that they offer a comprehensive overview of the literature related to EU translation and legal translation, while the book also contains many suggestions that invite further empirical investigations into these two fields. All in all, Biel has produced pioneering work in the form of a truly comprehensive book that will undoubtedly benefit future developments in TS. Along with TS scholars, law researchers will also be pleased to have this book at hand as it will indisputably provide them with valuable food for thought and help them (re)define EU translation and its wide-ranging impact on legal language and legal thinking.

  • Álvarez Lata, Natalia (2013). "The Impact of the Terminology of the European Directives on Consumer Rights on the Spanish Law: The Construction of a New Legal Language". European Review of Private Law 5(6), 1305-1324.
  • Chesterman, Andrew (2004). "Hypotheses about Translation Universals". Daniel Gile, Gyde Hansen and Kirsten Malkmjær (eds) (2004). Claims, Changes and Challenges in Translation Studies: Selected Contributions from the EST Congress, Copenhagen 2001. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1-13.
  • Niewiadomski, Adam (2009). "Europeizacja języka polskiego prawa na przykładzie regulacji prawnorolnych". Anna Mróz, Adam Niewiadomski and Monika Pawelec (eds) (2009). Prawo i język. Warsaw: Międzywydziałowe Koło Naukowe Kultury Języka Prawnego i Prawniczego UW Lingua Iuris, 79-83.
  • Mori, Laura (2011). "Linguistic variation in legal Maltese: EU directives compared to national implementation laws". Sandro Caruana, Ray Fabri and Thomas Stolz (eds) (2011). Variation and Change: The Dynamics of Maltese in Space, Time and Society. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 109-127.
  • Piehl, Aino (2006). "The influence of EU legislation on Finnish Legal Discourse". Maurizio Gotti and Davide S. Giannoni (eds) (2006). Linguistic Insights. Studies in Language and Communication Vol. 44. Bern: Peter Lang, 183-194.

Vilelmini Sosoni
Ionian University