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Plain Language in the EU: Impact of Plain Language in Drafting and Translation of Different Types of EU Legislation
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This essay assesses the impact of plain language campaigns in EU legislation. Different types of legislation as well as legislation with different intended recipients are analysed. The analysis includes calculating a LIX index score and complementing the index data with data from the texts. The data derives from textual parameters associated with plain language. The distinction between the recipient and the actual reader of legislation in the EU will also be discussed as the general public is asserted by the EU to be the reader of legislative acts. It is, however, shown in this essay that the general public is not the reader of legislative acts directed to them.

The hypothesis in this essay is that there has been an impact of plain language in legislative acts in the EU over time, as a result of plain language campaigns in the EU. We may also see a difference in the impact of plain language between specific types of legislation and between legislation directed to different intended recipients. A specialist audience may be considered to have a higher competence of the register of law compared to the general public. However, as the results from the analysis are inconclusive we cannot see any coherent impact of plain language in the texts analysed in this essay. The analysis also suggests that using textual features associated with plain language is not an effective tool to use to assess improvement in terms of readability and impact of plain language over time. The different textual parameters do not cohere.

In addition to the above, the impact of plain language in relation to translation in the EU is discussed. Plain language could perhaps enable more accurate and efficient translation to multiple languages, which is important in the EU’s multilingual environment. Consequently, by making an original language version of legislation less complex, the quality of translations may be improved. The qualitative analysis regarding plain language in translation suggests that a short, non-complex sentence in combination with the use of high frequency words enables a more natural translation in the Swedish language versions. The analysis also suggests some changes seen over time in relation to plain language in the translation process.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Plain language, readability, reader comprehension, the European Union, legislation, legal translation, legal register.
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-109080OAI: diva2:762335
Available from: 2015-01-12 Created: 2014-11-11 Last updated: 2015-01-12Bibliographically approved

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