National law in supranational case-law: A linguistic analysis of European Court of Human Rights judgments in English


The focus of the corpus-based and corpus-driven study presented in this book is on a supranational institution that has received relatively little attention in linguistic research: the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). After briefly illustrating the functioning of the ECtHR and its historical development, the first part of the book delves into the Court’s language regime, which consists in the use of only two official languages, i.e. English and French. The linguistic study presented in the second part of the book concerns the presence of Italian national “system-bound elements” (SBEs) in ECtHR case-law. SBEs are elements originally embedded in a legal and judicial system that are recontextualised in a different legal environment. To extract Italian SBEs from a corpus of sixteen ECtHR judgments published in English, an innovative methodology was proposed combining event templates with keywords. This allowed the retrieval of 401 expressions referring to different Italian SBEs, which were analysed in terms of their frequency, distribution, and linguistic form. The study reveals that a variety of national and international sources co-exist in the corpus and that translation plays a fundamental role in the drafting of supranational case-law, which requires the creation of “stipulative corresponding expressions”.

Katia Peruzzo is Research Fellow of English Linguistics and Translation at the Department of Linguistics and Comparative Cultural Studies at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. She holds a PhD in Interpreting and Translation Studies from the Department of Legal, Language, Interpreting and Translation Studies of the University of Trieste, and has a 10-year professional experience as a free-lance translator. Her research interests are national and supranational legal terminology, legal translation, terminological variation, and multidimensionality and knowledge representation.