JJUA55042U Language Issues in International and European law - NOTE: Cancelled in the spring semester 2016

Volume 2015/2016

.Law increasingly transgresses the boundaries of national legal systems, and most lawyers work in international legal environments. Moreover, with international cooperation and the free movement of people, issues of language and linguistic diversity give rise to the need for rules that govern language use at courts, before public authorities, and in international organizations. One major aim of this course is to focus on language issues that follow from the fact that law and society are increasingly international and transnational phenomena. Another aim is to study the practical consequences of international legal communication where lawyers write and read legislation and contracts that are set up in other languages than their own. In many respects this means that lawyers have to deal with translation of legal texts.

Finally, the course will introduce the students to the ambitions of international legal harmonisation and cause them to reflect on the possibility of establishing a common international legal language (in global legal English) which is independent from the national legal languages of domestic legal systems.

In the course of time the problems relating to language and linguistic diversity have been treated differently in different legal orders. The course will give a survey of the rules and case law given within the UN system, the European Court of Human Rights, and, the European Union as regards multilingualism.
For a full understanding of the problems of multilingualism it is necessary to have basic knowledge of the characteristics of legal language and legal translation. Thus, another major part of the course consists in giving an introduction to these subjects: Why is legal language special? Why is it difficult to translate legal texts from one language into another? What is meant by linguistic and cultural relativity? What are the methods of translation developed in translation theory? Of what relevance are the insights of language and translation theory to the problems of preparing and interpreting legal texts?
The focus of the course is to give the students an introduction to theoretical discussions of problems relating to language and linguistic diversity in international law and EU law. In order to substantiate the theoretical understanding of language issues in law, the students will be asked to analyze and compare, under teacher guidance, translated texts, and depending on their individual linguistic knowledge and proficiency to draft and translate samples of legal texts.

Learning Outcome

Describe rules governing language use in diverse national legal systems and international organisations and define the meaning of multilingualism, legal language, legal culture, legal translation, legal harmonisation, and transnational law.
Explain the bearing that linguistic diversity has on international legal drafting and legal interpretation.
• On the basis of language and translation theories, analyze and comment on court decisions applying multilingual legal interpretation. 
Discuss and reflect critically on theories of legal cultures and legal harmonization in a way that shows that the student is able to combine knowledge and insights of both law and linguistics and translation studies. 
Communicate and formulate his or her knowledge and arguments fluently and correctly in a structured and coherent way

Anne Lise Kjær&Silvia Adamo(eds.): Linguistice Diversity and European Democracy. Ashgate 2011 (220 s.).

Heikki Mattila: Comparative Legal Linguistics. Ashgate 2006. (ca. 130 s.)
Text binder of app. 200 pages

Pensum app. 550 pages.

The course will be conducted in English
The course is intended for both international and Danish students.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 241
  • Seminar
  • 34
  • Total
  • 275
Type of assessment
Oral defence, 20 min.
Oral exam based on synopsis 20 minutes
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Exam period

6. - 10. June 2016 (preliminary dates)