MDÜ legal terminology/Rechtsterminologie 3

The second MDÜ article on legal terminology is by Monika von Kurzynski and Anne-Kristin Langner and comes from a BA dissertation done at Hildesheim University. It’s about the differences in legal language between Swedish, German and English judgments. Unfortunately, it’s not really about terminology. It discusses the macrostructure and microstructure of judgments, puts the judgments of the three countries on a spectrum from abstract to personal, and considers the influence of the EU and the internet on judgments (the last two seem difficult to make generalizations about). Apparently the dissertation was based on three judgments of appeal courts, one in each language, but those judgments aren’t named, nor is there a bibliography. On top of all that, I wonder if this started out as a Swedish-German comparison and England was added to spice it up – but perhaps I’m doing an injustice to the university. At all events, it is not terribly well-informed about English judgments and English law. For example:

Ohne eine schriftliche Gesetzesbasis entscheiden Richter von Fall zu Fall auf Grundlage von Präjudizen.

There’s a bit of a contradiction betwee von Fall zu Fall and auf Grundlage von Präjudiz(i)en. It isn’t mentioned that England has statute law; its law is referred to as ‘gesprochenes Recht’.

It’s not easy to deal with three legal systems in a short treatise, because it’s so hard to generalize when one’s knowledge is limited.

On German judgments:

Die Normierung bzw. die klaren Vorgaben zur Urteilsgestaltung beeinflussen den Sprachstil deuscher Urteile erheblich, denn der Stil ist unpersönlich und abstrakt. … Der Text ist objektiv und ohne wertende Elemente.

The third article is about terminology, law and justice in South Africa and is by Anja Drame. This does have English and French summaries and a bibliography. South Africa, it says, has eleven languages recognized as equal, but only two of them have in the past been used for writing about law. As for the others, the African languages, they do have legal terminology, but it may differ or overlap, and documentation is in a problematic state. This is all interesting, but it leaves me feeling grateful I only have to worry about the difference between common law and civil law.

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