Bialystok Legal Studies vol. 27 no. 4
Abstract: Property law is present in every narrative, language and even in fairy tales as a fundamental right. The contribution, based on the fairy tales Up and The Emperor’s New Groove, aims to draw – in fairy tales as well as in reality – the boundaries within which this right can be exercised. The purpose of this paper, using an empirical and qualitative methodology, is to demonstrate how the use of fairy tales can be useful to teach young students of both primary and high school important concepts such as those part of the modern concept of “property” expressed recently by the legal doctrine and the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.
Keywords: fairy tales, language and law, law and literature, property law
Page range: 7-20
Abstract: This article presents an example of law and literature movement applicability as a phenomenon in legal sciences. It shows the links between law and literature based on the example of the features that are characteristic of literature and, at the same time, are important in the reflection of the philosophy of law and in current law-making practice. This approach is inspired by a cultural approach to legal theory and philosophy (cultural studies of law). The law and literature movement deals with diverse issues in the field of the integration of legal sciences with linguistics and literary theory. The law and literature movement is not novel in the Anglo-Saxon legal culture, as opposed to Polish law science where it is rather new and has recently been gaining in popularity. In this paper, I will try to answer the question of how the law and literature movement and research perspectives originating from this trend could be an inspiration for further use in legal philosophy. This reflection is inspired by some works in the science fiction (S-F) genre.
Keywords: android, Asimov’s laws, cultural legal studies, law and literature, science fiction
Page range: 21-34
Enhancing Students’ Metacognition in Legal English Classes
Abstract: In the last two decades, researchers have shown the importance of metacognition in language learning and teaching. This paper focuses on students’ metacognition in the course ‘English for Lawyers’ at Masaryk University and reports on the action research which was performed over the period of three years, 2019–2021. The objectives of the research were twofold: to identify how students perceive their learning in legal English lessons in which both the legal content and academic skills were practised, and then to find out whether implementing steps that raise their metacognition would help students become more efficient learners. By collecting data from reflective questionnaires given to students, the teacher analysed the teaching and learning situations and proposed changes, such as explaining the learning opportunities of the lessons and supporting the planning, monitoring, and evaluating of students’ learning, so that students could exploit the full potential of lessons and their learning abilities.
Keywords: academic skills, legal English, metacognition in language learning
Page range: 35-47
Antoni Dębiński, Magdalena Pyter, Michal Skřejpek
Regulae Iuris: A Lasting and Universal Vehicle of Legal Knowledge
Abstract: The article discusses the significance of Latin legal rules (regulae iuris, maximae iuris, dicta) for European legal culture. One of the areas explored by the authors is the relationship between the content of these rules and the language in which they were written down, i.e. Latin. Section one provides an overview of the origin, sources, and techniques of formulating legal rules by the jurisprudence of the ancient Roman state, with particular focus on the history of development of ius Romanum. After the dissolution of the Western Roman Empire (476 AD), the Church became the custodian of the values embedded in Roman law in Western Europe. Not only did she treasure precious scrolls containing ancient legal wisdom for the future generations but also implemented many Roman regulations in her internal legal system, as expressed in the paroemia Ecclesia vivit lege romana. This issue is addressed in section two. An important vehicle of disseminating the Roman legal thought, including its paroemias, was the Latin language. The ancient Romans contributed to its increasing circulation through rapid political expansion. Over time, Latin also elevated to the rank of the language of the Western Church. Because of that, it continued to prevail, also as a durable carrier of legal knowledge. This phenomenon is discussed in section three. The last section covers some facets of the use, application, and impact of Latin legal rules on modern legal science.
Keywords: canon law, history of law, jurisprudence, Latin, legal rules, Roman law
Page range: 49-67
Abstract: Even though it is sometimes argued that synonymy is undesirable in legal language, legal language is not devoid of it. In fact, legal language involves cases of syntactical synonymy and lexical synonymy as well as cases of absolute and partial synonymy. Therefore synonymy must be addressed in a legal translation classroom to make trainees aware of all the issues that it may involve, as well as of the fact that terms that may be perceived as synonymous by laypeople are not actually synonymous to lawyers (e.g. murder, homicide, manslaughter). What also needs to be addressed in a legal translation classroom are situations of near-synonyms, whose usage is governed by collocational or contextual restrictions (e.g. breach, violate, infringe) and sometimes involves slight nuances in meaning (e.g. liability v. responsibility, or unlawful, illegal, illicit, etc.). This article introduces a step-by-step approach designed to introduce legal translation trainees to a variety of issues related to (non-)synonymy in legal language, and presents a series of exercises that have been prepared to this end in line with the scaffolding approach. Although the exercises are designed for the English–Czech language pair, they are easily transferable to any teaching context involving English.
Keywords: doublets, legal translation training, lexical synonymy, synonymy, syntactical synonymy
Page range: 69-82
‘Firm’ [Firma] in the Meaning of Polish Legal Language: The Business Name under which the Entrepreneur Operates in Legal and Economic Transactions, or an Entrepreneur [Przedsiębiorca]? Selected Comments on the (Un) Reasonableness of the Use of the Word ‘Firm’ [Firma] in Various Substantive Meanings
Abstract: This article presents selected observations relating to the reasonableness of using the word ‘firm’ [Polish: firma] in various substantive meanings in Polish legal language. First, attention is drawn to the basic meaning of the word ‘firm’ [firma] in Polish legal language as a business name under which an entrepreneur [przedsiębiorca] operates in legal transactions, which is synthetically (briefly) distinguished from the meaning in Polish legal language, especially of the word ‘entrepreneur’ [przedsiębiorca]. It is then pointed out that in Polish legal and non-legal language, especially in everyday language and in the specialist language of economics and finance, as well as in management and quality sciences (including the language of practice of these areas of knowledge), a different meaning of the word ‘firm’ [firma] is adopted: while in Polish legal language it is understood as the business name of an entrepreneur, in the non-legal language of the above-mentioned areas it is understood as meaning an entrepreneur (also in the context of the meaning given to it in selected foreign languages). This is the background for pointing to the use of the word ‘firm’ [firma] in Polish legal language in the early 21st century not to define the business names of entrepreneurs conducting a strictly defined economic activity, but in a different sense – to define these entrepreneurs by introducing the concepts of an investment firm [firma inwestycyjna], a foreign investment firm [zagraniczna firma inwestycyjna] and an audit firm [firma audytorska], assessing these legislative changes as a significant systemic inconsistency and formulating conclusions in this regard.
Keywords: audit firm [firma audytorska], entrepreneur [przedsiębiorca], firm [firma], investment firm [firma inwestycyjna], legal language, non-legal language
Page range: 83-100
Abstract: (Public) morals is a specific example of a general clause that bridges the gap between legal norms and a wide array of non-legal rules. The indeterminacy of this clause allows the standard of morals to be construed with due consideration for various criteria, values, principles and local circumstances. At the same time, in a culturally diverse society, difficulties in translating ethical issues into the legal language come to light. Consequently, we have both national and international legislation in which the premise of (public) morals is the legitimate objective/aim for restricting certain freedoms and rights. In turn, judicial bodies such as the European Court of Human Rights, as described in this paper, encounter problems in interpretation and the need to use different interpretative methods to give the right meaning to this concept.
Keywords: ECtHR judgments, living together concept, margin of appreciation, morals (public morals) clause
Page range: 101-119
Abstract: The issue of whistleblowers is one of great interest and controversy because of EU Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2019 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law. While the English meaning of “whistleblowing” is inherently positive and not associated with anything negative, the Polish translation of the word, “sygnalista”, often does not evoke positive associations. Blowing the whistle versus snitching are two types of activity and it is important to understand the essence of these terms. Unfortunately, the linguistic connotations indicate that Poles do not always read the proper intentions when hearing the word “whistleblower”. Whistleblowing is often seen in Poland as a reprehensible activity, and whistleblowers are usually referred to as denouncers. The meaning of the word “whistleblower” in Poland is rather pejorative. European history, experienced through Nazi practices, the spying age of the Cold War and invigilation by the Soviet Union, has developed firmly established hostility against so-called informers. That is why it is so difficult to attain a level of positive understanding of the meaning of this word in Poland. The current realities of operating an organization, regardless of its legal nature, force it to conform to certain standards. These standards, arising either from legal norms or good practice, form the so-called compliance system. Regulations on whistleblowing are inevitably part of it.
Keywords: compliance, informing, whistleblower, whistleblowing procedures
Page range: 121-134
Abstract: The aim of this paper is to provide some insight into legal definitions of fox hunting in the United Kingdom and polowanie na lisy in the Republic of Poland and to scrutinize the differences in the legal meaning of the two terms in question and their social perception. The goal of the study is to show that apparently similar concepts may in fact differ significantly and treating them as equivalents may lead to miscommunication. The author will apply the following research methods: the comparative law analysis of legal concepts of fox hunting and polowanie na lisy, and the lexical analysis of the terms in question in legal and non-legal genres. The research findings strongly indicated that globalization and social media have a massive impact on perceptions of various phenomena by people, who frequently stereotype the reality, assuming that well-distributed and popularized “foreign” is identical to “native”. The misunderstanding of such culture-bound terminology may have serious consequences which are already visible in social debates and may negatively affect the legislative process.
Keywords: culture-bound terminology, interlingual communication, legal language, legal translation, system-bound terminology
Page range: 135-152
Abstract: The radicalization of views and the conflict concerning the possibility of, and the rationale for, the institutionalization of termination of pregnancy in Poland usually gain prominence before elections, when political parties, when presenting their programs, bring controversial issues that evoke extreme emotions to the debate. The appearance of the topic of abortion in the discourse is always accompanied by increased attention of the media, which makes the issue even more attractive for politicians. An analysis is presented of the bills amending the Act of 7 January 1993 on family planning, protection of the human fetus, and the conditions of permissibility of abortion, also known as the “Family Planning Act” or the “Anti-Abortion Act,” as well as of parliamentary debates1 focused on the issue of the right to abortion in Poland, that is primarily those debates where the issue of expanding or narrowing the enumerative catalog of prerequisites for permissibility of abortion was discussed. The temporal scope of the subject matter includes the legislative processes that took place before the eighth term of the Sejm. The paper is an attempt to interpret the regularities observed during the research and does not aspire to be an exhaustive description of the topic.
Keywords: pregnancy termination, abortion, language of law, Polish Sejm
Page range: 153-167
Abstract: The emergence of coronavirus in early 2020 and its rapid spread led to the pandemic that has affected almost all aspects of our lives, including education, law1 and the economy. After the first downtime and the initial shock it became clear that it was extremely important that learning continued; therefore, when schools and universities were closed and lockdowns introduced, online teaching became a priority. For the vast majority of teachers and students, however, it posed an enormous challenge as the situation required leaving their comfort zones, adapting to new conditions and / or acquiring new skills. Some of them were also forced to confront their prejudices towards this mode of instruction. This paper endeavours to provide some insights into the teaching English for Legal Purposes online in the times of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the course of Legal English carried out for Slovak judges, prosecutors and court staff in 2020 and 2021 provides a specific case background for the research. The study aimed to investigate how the course participants perceive learning Legal English online. The research particularly addresses the questions what their approach towards this mode of instruction was before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, what they like and dislike about online language learning, whether they find learning Legal English online more difficult than studying in a real classroom as well as whether online classes can be as effective and enjoyable as traditional ones. The study assumed both a quantitative and qualitative methodology encompassing a questionnaire and a semi-structured interview. The findings of the research show that an overwhelming majority of the respondents favourably evaluated the course and would definitely participate again in a similar format or recommend it to other learners.
Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, English for Legal Purposes, mode of instruction, online teaching
Page range: 169-189
Jacek Mieczysław Sobczak, Ksenia Wiktoria Kakareko
Evaluation of Compliance with the Provisions of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in the Light of the First Report of the Republic of Poland
Abstract: Poland’s ratification of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages has imposed several obligations on the Republic of Poland. At the moment of ratification, Poland indicated which languages would be considered regional or minority, referring to the Act on National and Ethnic Minorities and Regional Language. This article outlines the mechanism for assessing Poland’s compliance with the Charter and indicates which responsibilities rest with the executive power that needs to present detailed reports on the Charter’s implementation to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. The article presents the contents of the first report from 2010. It also shows the position of the Committee of Experts that initially evaluated the 2010 report, while analysing the existing normative acts in Poland in this regard to other regulations and actual practices. The activities of the Committee of Experts resulted in a report suggesting recommendations submitted to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The Polish government referred to the Report of the Committee of Experts with its comments and objections. Based on all these documents, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe formulated recommendations for Poland, fully sharing, despite the reservations of the Republic of Poland, the position of the Committee of Experts. From the content of the documents analysed in this article, it follows that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe believes that Poland still has a lot of work to do in promoting awareness and tolerance of regional or minority languages. Poland also needs to improve in the field of education, relating to media, and finally in the delicate matter of communication between minorities and public authorities.
Keywords: Committee of Experts, Council of Europe, European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, minority language, regional language
Page range: 191-216
Abstract: The article considers bilingual couples of Poles with foreigners residing in Poland with a special focus on the acquisition of Polish by the latter. Foreigners from such couples function not only in their families but also in wider circles of the host society. Communication needs resulting from contacts outside a bilingual couple and job commitments lead to situations when life in the host society becomes a challenge if these needs are not met. Theoretical framework for the analysis and interpretation of this phenomenon is the Complementarity Principle (Grosjean) and the concept of a domain (Fishman). Data were obtained from 24 in-depth interviews with bilingual couples. Qualitative methodology made it possible to grasp the complexity of the researched cases and phenomena which unveiled specific trends. Findings of the study revealed major factors that had a direct impact on the acquisition of Polish among foreigners in bilingual couples with Poles. The key impact factors referred to (1) the way of communication in the couple, (2) the couple’s language strategies towards children, and (3) the contact with the partner’s extended family, including the type of professional activity.
Keywords: bilingual couples, immigrants language acquisition, Poland, qualitative methodology
Page range: 217-228
Abstract: Legal discourse shows variation most commonly in terms of contrasts between languages, textual genres, communicative settings (professional vs. lay communication), translation methods and categories of authors, the last constituting a testing ground for the text-prediction task presented in this article. The research project involves quantitative analysis of selected discrete units and their statistical processing with the R tool for the purpose of generating random forest and decision tree models. It is hypothesised that it is possible to effectively predict text authorship based on the grammatical profile of the texts. The prediction model proposed here covers two authorship categories, institutional name and professional title, and these encapsulate authorship sub-categories related to institutional and work position background. The prediction accuracy parameters for the authorship-based text classification in both cases prove to be statistically satisfactory. More specific findings show that the text classification models for some authorship sub-categories are more effective than for others. Further, some discrete units have distinctively high discriminative power for the texts. The analysis is conducted on a custom- designed corpus, composed of English texts processed in company registration proceedings. The corpus is homogenous in terms of the function and the communicative context of the texts, which assures reliability of the findings and at the same time captures the variationist aspect of legal communication by taking the varied authorship factor into account.
Keywords: authorship factor, decision tree, legal discourse, predictive analysis, random forest, text classification
Page range: 229-252