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EU criminal justice and Italian law: investigating terminological gaps


Legal translation entails a basic knowledge of the legal systems involved, familiarity with the relevant terminology and competency in the specific legal writing style of the target language. Apart from terminological lacunae and lexical gaps, the translator has to consider not only the textual conventions in the source language that are often culture-dependent and may not correspond to conventions in the target culture, but also the linguistic structures found in the source language that may have no equivalent structures in the target language. In this this regard, the EU carries this process to new heights for a number of reasons: it is a novel creation; law plays a central part in the existence of the EU, and law is expressed in words; EU is a multilingual organisation bringing together specialists from different national cultures who work together in their own environment, sometimes referred to as the ‘Brussels bubble’. The comparative analysis of a corpus of EU Directives on criminal justice (2004-2012) and their Italian version illustrates that the Italian text adopts literal translation of words and phrasemes which may lead to ambiguous/erroneous interpretation of the target text and cause problems to an Italian legal audience if only translational equivalents are used.