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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-20
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Rita Temmerman is full professor in Translation Studies and Terminology at Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Her research focuses on issues related to special language in general and terminology in particular, such as application-oriented multilingual terminology analysis and understanding terminology creation in cognitive, linguistic, cultural and situational contexts. She has published on metaphor in cognition, dynamics and terminology, intercultural and multilingual communication, and secondary term formation.


  • neologisms
  • primary term creation
  • secondary term creation
  • multilingual primary term creation
  • Euro-language


Dive into the research topics of 'European Union multilingual primary term creation and the impact of its neologisms on national adaptations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this