Fight the Fog

This follows on from Clarity, but I am putting it in a separate entry for once.

The EU translation service has an initiative called Fight the Fog, trying to encourage the writing of comprehensible documents. I must admit that although I’ve enjoyed listening to Emma Wagner talking about this, I have never found any direct help from it for myself. They do have a very nice list called Le mot juste, of French words often mistranslated in EU usage.Take acquis communautaire. The BBC defines it, and here is a whole page on the EU website headed Acquis of the European Union in the Field of Justice and Home affairs. The Fight the Fog pages say it should be translated as ‘body of EU law’.

The site also has a Fog Fighting Corner, with extracts from a regular column in the staff magazine where particularly horrific examples of legalese are quoted together with readers’ suggested improvements.

2 thoughts on “Fight the Fog

  1. Thanks for the mot juste, diversifying with a welcome aside out of German. I’ve also had scant opportunity to use Emma’s suggestions.

    Anyway, I would question some of the purported mistranslations of the French in that list. Attribute can be used in certain literal artistic, corporate and tax contexts. Capacity can be used to denote legal capacity and sui juris parties when it is full and civil. At air- and sea-ports, there is immigration control, though passports are ‘checked’. Material works as an adjective: prejudice material et moral – material and non-material loss that is the stock ECJ term. Prevu can be foreseen. Indeed, previsibilite is foreseeability in the Eng. tort sense, as regularly pops up in French pleadings. Plannability of loss would clearly be absurd.

  2. Point taken – no reason not to include other languages. Of course, there isn’t much I can say about French-English legal translation. I do use Doucet-Fleck’s DE>FR dictionary to locate Swiss German terms! There are definitely signs saying “Passport control”, although I agree with them that the verb is normally an elementary error. I like their “non-member countries” instead of “third countries”. But then again, all the EU has to do is lay down equivalents and then people should understand them – if they succeed in sticking to them themselves, that is.

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