European Union multilingual primary term creation and the impact of its neologisms on national adaptations


Professor in Translation, Multilingual Intercultural Communication and Terminology Studies at the Department of Applied Linguistics of Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Dr Rita Temmerman has written an interesting paper entitled “European Union multilingual primary term creation and the impact of its neologisms on national adaptations“. We are delighted to share this informative and insightful paper with you.


The principle of equal authenticity of the different official language versions has been codified in European Union (EU) law. In this article, we discuss aspects of neology creation that can be observed in equally authentic texts written in the 24 official languages of the EU. Translators working in collaboration with legal specialists and drafters in a complex process of controlled text production within the European institutions play a key role in coining Euro-terminology in the text versions of their first language. These neologisms were in most cases first expressed in Euro-English, the main procedural language at present. In accordance with Fisher (2010), we suggest considering Euro-neologisms in 24 Euro-languages as examples of “multilingual primary term creation”, and we point out some of the complexities involved. The heritage of several legal cultures and their discursive traditions appear to have an impact on EU terminological neologisms. The relative impact of the transposition of European directives and their neologisms on existing terminology in national law is shown by comparing Euro-Dutch terminology in a directive on migration to terminology in Dutch legal documents and in legal documents in Dutch in Belgium after adopting the national provisions that are necessary to comply with the directive. In our case study the impact of Euro-Dutch on legal Dutch in the Netherlands and in Belgium appears to be minimal.


Neologisms, primary term creation, secondary term creation, multilingual primary term creation, Euro-language

Edited by Víctor Mir and Emma Wynne – Robert Schuman Communications’ Trainees at TermCoord