‘Europeanization’ of Family Law: Interaction/Intersection of Cultural and Lexical diversities

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Abstract

The variety of national family laws constitutes a serious obstacle to the free movement of persons within the European Union. From this point of view, the establishment of minimum standards together with the creation of a ‘common core’ of family law rules become one of the main goals of the EU institutions in order to make the principle of Community freedom effective. Since the late 1990s the discourse on the relationship between family law(s) and Community law has changed significantly (1999 Action Plan; The Amsterdam Treaty, art.65; EU Treaty, art.39). Yet, notwithstanding the general sociological/socio-cultural changes that have affected the legal categories of family and marriage (i.e., ‘paternal responsibilities’, ‘children’s rights’, the ‘emancipation of women’) allowing the recognition of a ‘European common core’, family law still remains a culture-sensitive/context-bound domain.Culture-bound legal concepts possessing strong regional connotations deserve careful attention when moving from English legal texts to Romance or Slavic languages. In fact, terms and concepts created, elaborated or defined by the legislature or by jurists in a given jurisdiction do not necessarily correspond to terms and concepts produced in other legal systems. This is even more evident in the field of family law, with common and civil family law terminology offering plenty of examples of interlingual ambiguity: problems of synonymy and legal homonyms; difficulties related with a partial overlap of legal meaning; inconveniences caused by ‘false friends’ (Garner 2001, 2002, 2004; de Franchis 1984, 1996).The aim of this paper is to explore the aforementioned linguistic problems focusing on the solution prospected by the European Community in terms of the development of common family law terms and rules. More specifically, the analysis of issues, such as the relativity and perspectival structure of family law knowledge, the translatability of domestic orientations and the existence/lack of a uniform terminology, will help to understand how the linguistic and cultural constraints acting upon the latest most important EU family law documents (the so-called ‘Brussels regulations’) reflect either the success or the failure of EU institutions in the attempt to overcome the immanent legal, cultural and terminological diversities in national substantive family laws. In particular, the specialised field of family law will be presented as a viable way of accelerating the ‘Europeanisation process’, that is, a feasible example of language strategies and dynamically interconnected provisions which strive to construct a lexicon reflecting the harmonious/disharmonious co-existence of multicultural and multilingual identities.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteA Cultural Journey through the English Lexicon
Pagine85-107
Numero di pagine22
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2012

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