Multilingualism and Multijuralism: Assets of EU Legislation and Adjudication?
By Theodor Schilling
Suggested Citation: Theodor Schilling, Multilingualism and Multijuralism: Assets of EU Legislation and Adjudication?, 12 German Law Journal 1460-1491 (2011), available at http://www.germanlawjournal.com/index.php?pageID=11&artID=1369
The article discusses whether EU arrangements allow the opportunities offered by its multijuralism and multilingualism to be realized and the problems raised by them to be minimized. Those opportunities are defined, in the case of multijuralism, as the EU having at its disposal a toolbox of many legal solutions for many situations. In the case of multilingualism, one has to distinguish between a strong variety (all language versions are equally authentic) and a weak variety (one authentic language and so many official translations). One opportunity offered by both varieties is that multilingual laws are linguistically superior to monolingual ones because of the clarifying effect of translations. An opportunity offered only by the strong variety is that the meaning of such a law can best be pinned down by linguistic triangulation, i.e. by approaching it from different linguistic angles. Problems caused only by strong multilingualism are the intractability of contradictory language versions of a law and the very indeterminacy of all laws, which is the necessary counterpart of the possibility of linguistic triangulation. Concerning multijuralism, the article finds ample possibilities for EU lawmakers and adjudicators alike to make use of the toolbox. Concerning multilingualism, while the clarifying effect of translation is real enough, current arrangements allow the EU to profit from it only at some legislative stages. Further, linguistic triangulation is found not to be a workable concept in the EU, which has 23 authentic official language versions. Strong multilingualism therefore, cannot offset the problems it causes.