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Eurolect Observatory

Eurolect Observatory. Interlingual and intralingual analysis of EU legal varieties

The objective of the project concerns the analysis of the EU varieties of legal language (Eurolects) which have originated and become established within the linguistic dia-systems of some Member States or in parts of them: England (United Kingdom), Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, and Spain.

Project description

The Eurolect Observatory Project was set up within the Faculty of Interpreting and Translation (FIT) as a team project coordinated by professor Laura Mori and financed by the Research Fund of the Università degli Studi Internazionali di Roma (UNINT). The first phase, started in December 2013, and ended in December 2016.

The research project is based on years of individual research carried out by its coordinator. Since 2011 it also has drawn on the dissertations written by MA students in linguistics or in the languages covered by the project: MA dissertations were supervised by the members of the research group.

Over the years the research Group has been expanded to welcome new members from several institutions both in Italy (Rome 'Tor Vergata' University) and abroad (Insitute for the Languages of FinlandIonian University, Ghent UniversityParis Diderot UniversityUniversity of Malta, University of Warsaw, University of Tampere, Ventspils University College).

Events, conferences and meetings

Click here to find out the full list of events, conferences and meetings held for the promotion of the Research Project and the preliminary dissemination results.

Project leader

Research team

  • Dutch
    Gert de Sutter - Associate Professor, Department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication, University of Ghent
  • English
    Annalisa Sandrelli - Coordinator - Professoressa aggregata, Facoltà di Interpretariato e Traduzione, UNINT
    Chiara Degano - Professoressa aggregata, Dipartimento Studi Umanistici, Università di Roma "Tor Vergata"
  • Finnish
    Mikhail Mikhailov - Coordinator - Professor, Translation and Literary Studies, University of Tampere
    Aino Piehl - Senior specialist in legal and EU language at the Institute for the Languages of Finland
  • French
    Fabrizio Megale - Coordinator - Professore a contratto, Facoltà di Interpretariato e Traduzione, UNINT
    Enrica Bracchi - Maître de conferénces en Etudes italiannes, Faculté de Langues et Cultures Etrangères, Université de Nantes
    Stéphan Patin - Maître de conferénces, Université Paris Diderot, Paris 7

  • German
    Fabio Proia - Coordinator - Professore aggregato, Facoltà di Interpretariato e Traduzione, UNINT

  • Greek
    Vilelmini Sosoni - Coordinator - Lecturer & Head for the Study Abroad for the UK, Department of Foreign Languages, Translation and Interpreting Ionian University, Corfù
    Katia Lida Kermanidis - Lecturer, Department of Informatics, Ionian University, Corfù
    Sotiris Livas - Assistant Professor, Department of Foreign Languages, Translation and Interpreting, Ionian University, Corfù

  • Italian
    Laura Mori - Coordinator - Professoressa Associata, Facoltà di interpretariato e Traduzione, UNINT
    Stefania Cavagnoli - Professoressa Associata, Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici dell'Università di Roma "Tor Vergata"

  • Latvian
    Gatis Dilāns - Coordinator - Senior Researcher, Ventspils University College

  • Maltese
    Sandro Caruana - Coordinator - Full Professor, Faculty of Education, Università ta' Malta
    Sergio Portelli - Associate Professor, Translation, Terminology and Interpreting Studies, Faculty of Arts, Università ta' Malta

  • Polish
    Lucja Biel - Coordinator - Associate Professor, Faculty of Applied Linguistics, University of Warsaw

  • Spanish
    Lorenzo Blini - Coordinator- Professore associato, Facoltà di Interpretariato e Traduzione, UNINT


By analysing corpora containing EU directives and national implementing measures in a number of languages (Dutch, Finnish, French, English, German, Greek, Italian, Latvian, Maltese, Polish and Spanish), the research project aimed to achieve the following objectives:

  • to test and/or confirm the hypothesis that there are EU legal varieties (known as “Eurolects”) which were born and developed within the linguistic dia-systems of a few member States, or in parts of them, taken as case studies;

  • to highlight the differences between each Eurolect and its corresponding national legal variety, in order to provide elements that may be useful to the study of metalinguistic and translational issues;

  • to provide reference data to stakeholders or interested parties (the EU Language services, national and regional Parliaments, governing bodies of autonomous regions);

  • to produce results that may help improve the quality of legal drafting, both nationally and supranationally.

Research theme

The EU is the ideal setting to study translation activities, since it enables us to analyse how the translation process has affected the languages with the legal status of official and working languages (Regulation No. 1, Council of the European Economic Community, 1958).

The internationalisation of law within the EU has made translation more and more necessary and binding in a number of situations. As a result, multilingualism and translation are of crucial importance to the European institutions: the former can only be guaranteed and ensured through translation from and into all of the current 24 EU official languages.

The EU institutions and, more specifically, the Commission and the Parliament have their own Language services, which are in charge of legal translation and interpreting. In this setting, contact between languages and translation has shaped (and is shaping) linguistic solutions which subsequently influence all EU languages, especially in terminology. As a consequence, the sociolinguistic space of every EU language has been affected by the rise of a new diaphasic variety, with features that are typical of LSPs (bureaucratic language, technical and scientific language) and the peculiarity of being the outcome of interlingual transposition. This has already been demonstrated for EU Italian, an international variety of the Italian language "beyond the national borders " (Italian Eurolect), with features that set it apart from national legal Italian (Mori 2003; Mori in Turchetta/Mori/Ranucci 2005).

Translation practice has led to the creation of a language used in EU legislation, known as Eurolect, characterised by a number of technical terms as well as standardized linguistic, structural and text patterns. Such features are the linguistic expression of an agenda, which aims to achieve not only economic, social and political harmonisation, but also a cultural harmonisation in a broad sense.

Over the last ten years, the studies conducted by the Project leader on the Italian and Maltese Eurolects have highlighted the importance of interlingual contact dynamics. Moreover, students on the MA Programme in Interpreting and Translation have produced several dissertations which aim to prove the existence of the English, French, German and Spanish Eurolects and to define their main features. Indeed, there is a dearth of contrastive studies with a quantitative approach: data are needed to confirm the relevance of features observed through qualitative analyses (e.g. the presence of Europeisms in the lexis; morphologic variants; syntactic structure; textual features). Therefore, the members of the Eurolect Observatory have decided to carry out quantitative analyses with a shared protocol,to obtain more significant results at the end of the project.

Eurolect Observatory Multilingual Corpus

A collection of a parallel and comparable corpus of EU directives and matching national transposition instruments has been compiled by Marco Stefano Tomatis (UNINT).
The Eurolect Observatory Multilingual Corpus comprises two sub-corpora:
  • sub-corpus A: all the directives within the time-span 1/1/ 1999 – 31/12/2008 (660 directives in 11 languages) in all the EU policy areas;
  • sub-corpus B: all the national transposition measures of the above-mentioned directives in England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain.

Research structure and activity

Researchers within each language unit carried out an intralingual analysis, by comparing the language used in the EU sub-corpus and matching national transposition measures.

Intralingual analysis carried out by each language unit focusing on the 11 languages involved, will be followed by an interlingual description which aims to identify common trends resulting from the language contact setting in which Eurolects have developed.

At the end of the project, its main outcomes has been presented during a final study day, which will hopefully be a fruitful encounter for Italian and foreign researchers, officials from the EU Language services, and legal drafters of the national implementing measures. The meeting was an opportunity to reflect on how to improve the readability of highly binding texts that have a direct impact on their recipients.

Research activities and outcomes will be disseminated appropriately. To this end, contributions by all of project members have been included in an edited volume:

Mori, Laura (2018). Observing Eurolects. Corpus analysis of linguistic variation in EU law, Studies in Corpus Linguistics 86, Benjamins Publishing Company: Amsterdam/Philadelphia.