Deontic Modal Verbs in EU Legislation: A Comparative Study of Documents in Four Germanic Languages
Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
The present paper is a comparative, cross-linguistic study of modal verbs in legal speech acts expressing deontic notions such as orders, prohibitions and permissions. The study comprises the four largest Germanic languages spoken today: English, German, Dutch and Swedish. With English as a reference point, EU legal documents in these four languages are compared to see how legal speech acts signalled by modal verbs in the English text are expressed in German, Dutch and Swedish. The main focus is however on English and Swedish. The material consists of EU treaties and directives, UK and Irish statutes and Swedish statutes. The legal documents are first investigated for the total amount of certain modals and words in order to get a general outline of potential differences in modal verb patterns. Secondly, a close examination of ten randomly chosen treaty articles and two directives is conducted to see how English legal speech acts containing a modal verb are translated in German, Dutch and Swedish. The initial general results for the English and Swedish EU texts are then compared to UK, Irish and Swedish national statutes.
The results found show that Swedish has very similar modal patterns to English, although there are similarities to German and Dutch as well. Swedish is the only language that has a modal verb equivalent to deontic shall. English and Swedish is thus, in terms of deontic modal patterns, closely related while German and Dutch display equal similarities.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-6658OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-6658DiVA: diva2:196826
Shaw, Philip, Professor
Johannesson, Nils-Lennart, Professor