Is The European Legal English Legalese-Free?
The European Union institutions are expanding their legal and authoritative powers in many sectors and fields. Therefore, their legislative and judgement activities have increased. This paper focuses on European legal English in order to explore whether it is hallmarked by the technicalities and verbosity that characterise the legal jargon, also known as legalese. Legalese encompasses lexical terms, phraseology and syntactic structures that make it incomprehensible to the layperson. Literature reports that the European legal language is also hallmarked by abstruse and archaic words. This paper will analyse European legal English and explore whether, and to what extent, the Euro-language can be a source of legalese or of plain legal terms. In order to do so, a corpus analysis of legalese will be carried out. The terms will be sourced from some European corpora, namely the European Constitution corpus; the Treaty of Lisbon; the European Parliament Proceedings corpus and the Bononia Legal corpus (only in the European Directives and Judgements sub-corpora). The paper findings will highlight that, to some extent, European legal English is free from the most pedantic forms of archaism, although some verbosity can still be found. What one may hope for the future is that European legal drafters and judges will continue to implement plain English in order to obtain a boundary-free legal language that could be used across Europe.