2013 | 34 | 1 | 9-26
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The aim of this research paper is to examine Latin in the context of legal translation between the Polish, English and French languages. Latin ap- pears in contemporary legal discourse in the form of maxims, short phrases and terms. Even though it constitutes an integral element of legal drafting, Latin often attracts little attention from legal translators. It is falsely assumed that Latin elements of the text do not require translation due to several miscon- ceptions related to the Latin language. Firstly, Latin is generally perceived as a global language with no local variations in form. Secondly, Latin is believed to be the universal point of reference in international communication (which is true only in the case of the natural sciences). Thirdly, Latin legal phrases or maxims are thought to originate solely from Roman law, thus they express only Roman legal thought. In the first part of the paper we will address the above issues. To this end, we will briefly discuss the historical presence of Latin in the European lin- guistic context. We will then present the results of our research into the use of Latinisms in the Polish, French and English legal systems. The subject of our research was a set of twenty Latin maxims and phrases that frequently appear in the decisions of the Polish courts. During the first stage of the analysis, the items in question were verified in Legalis (the on-line service devoted to Polish law). The second stage of the research involved the consultation of monolingual dictionaries of French and English legal language to verify the universal charac- ter of the analyzed Latinisms. During the third stage of the analysis, we looked at the practical use of Latinisms in online databases of legal texts (, Westlaw International). The paper concludes with some comments on Latinisms in lexicographical publications and online sources.
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  • University of Silesia
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