Legiferare (e amministrare) in molte lingue
Abstract: The research funded by the EU Commission on Document Quality Control in Public Administrations and International Organisations has evidenced some interesting results having some contradictory features. On the one hand, we observed that the need to legislate in several languages is more widely shared than is generally supposed (India and South Africa both have to cope with many languages; the European Court of Human Rights must translate documents in some 38 languages). On the other hand, we noticed how the English language is increasing its dominance even within the European institutions. EU statistical data indicate that a large share of documents are drafted in English, often by non-native speakers of the language. This issue affects the style of the legislation. The language spoken or written in Brussels and Luxembourg is both contaminated by exchanges with other languages, and full of neologisms specifically created to express European law issues (e.g.: comitology). Looking at precautions being implemented to guarantee a satisfying correspondence between rules expressed in various languages, we highlighted the role of a central office as in Switzerland (CIR, Commission Interne de rédaction) or in Finland (Government Translation Unit). This mechanism of government-related supervision is more efficient if coupled with the support of an institution such as the Institute for the National Languages of Finland. Members of the board monitor linguistic changes (including neologisms) and cooperate with a network for the translation of EU legislation (ESKO), in order to maintain good coherence between the legal language at home and in the
European institutions. The procedure of co-drafting (the progressive negotiation of the final document using several languages in parallel) is highly recommended by experienced lawyer linguists: but it has some costs that discourage the effective implementation of this practice, e.g. in drafting international treaties (in the maritime field). Some specialized agencies of the UN organize post-convention congresses to harmonize linguistic versions between group of States sharing the same language (as in the case of Austria and Germany). At a practical level, respondents to the questionnaire (proposed to several institutions) consistently indicated the use of CAT, computer assisted translation tools, as common and useful, especially when dedicated data banks are available in a specific field. The training of legal translators must therefore include the use of both softwares and data banks that will necessarily be ordinary tools of their job.