Conference article

Svenskan i EU och EU på svenska

Håkan Edgren

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Published in: Svenskans beskrivning 24. Förhandlingar vid Tjugofjärde sammankomsten för svenskans beskrivning

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 6:6, p. 69-80

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Published: 2001-01-25


ISSN: 1650-3686 (print), 1650-3740 (online)


The legal texts of the European Union that are translated into Swedish often differ from legal texts that are written in Sweden. One of the main reasons is that Sweden has experienced a long period of clearer legal writing (the Klarspråk program). This has not been the case in the rest of the EU; where sentences and clauses in legal texts are normally longer and more complex.

As Swedish translators have to obey a principle called the "period rule" (punktregeln); the sentence structure of the original has to be kept as it is. Thus the often complicated structure of the original results in a complex Swedish syntax; deviating from the applicable legal writing norm in Sweden.

Another major problem is that Swedish translators often translate word-for-word (in linear fashion); thus producing a non-idiomatic Swedish syntax structure. A holistic approach would be preferred; reshaping the text according to Swedish syntactical norms.

The article describes in some detail what peculiar features are frequently produced by linear translating:

  1. Distant predicates
  2. Piled attributes and “attribute slush”
  3. Sentence nesting
  4. Preposition uncertainty
  5. Abundance of words
  6. Nominalization

Many concrete examples from EU texts are listed under each heading.

Unfortunately; the internal revision routines at the EU translation service do not focus on syntax; but on terminology and omissions.

A remedy program cannot but be complex; as is shown in the following study by Kenneth Larsson: Svenskan i EU. Hur vi kan främja kvaliteten på de svenska EU-texterna.


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Carrefourkontor:1 = S. 1 på följande webbplats (den 1.10.2000):

Europeiska unionens bulletin; 5/1999. Byrån för Europeiska gemenskapernas officiella publi kationer. Luxemburg.

Förslag till handlingsprogram för att främja svenska språket; 1998. I: Språkvård. 2. S. 7-23.

Europeiska gemenskapernas officiella tidning; C-serien. Byrån för Europeiska gemenskaper nas officiella publikationer. Luxemburg: EGT C 270 (1999); EGT C 274 (1999); EGT C 276 (1999).

Europeiska gemenskapernas officiella tidning; L-serien. Byrån för Europeiska gemenskaper nas officiella publikationer. Luxemburg: EGT L 180 (1999); EGT L 203 (1999); EGT L 249 (1999); EGT L 250 (1999); EGT L 253 (1999); EGT L 254 (1999); EGT L 256 (1999); EGT L 257 (1999).

Kommissionens arbetsdokument (även tillgängliga via CELEX; EU:s lagstiftningsdatabas): KOM(99) 420; KOM(99) 436; KOM(99) 438; KOM(99) 444.

Larsson; Kenneth; 1998: Svenskan i EU. Hur vi kan främja kvaliteten på de svenska EU-tex terna. SOU 1998:114.

Språkdata: Press96; Press97; Press98 på följande nätsida (den 1.10.2000):

SAG = Svenska akademiens grammatik; 1999. Svenska akademien; Stockholm.

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