Research - 12.10.2011 - 00:00 

Legislation in four languages

For Switzerland, multilingualism is one of its defining characteristics – and a big challenge. This also applies to the country’s legal system, as a recently published study reveals.<br/>


11 October 2011. The volume entitled Mehrsprachige Gesetzgebung in der Schweiz eludicates the legal framework and practice of multilingual legislation. On 6 October 2011, the publishers Dike Verlag and the authors presented the work in Berne. The authors include the legal expert Rainer Schweizer. Cantonal Minister Martin Jäger, the former President of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, Giusep Nay, from Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland, and Professor Walter Haas, President of the National Research Programme 56, then discussed the opportunities and challenges of multilingual legislation in Switzerland with journalists.

Research project about Switzerland’s linguistic diversity

The volume demonstrates the individuality and linguistic wealth of Switzerland’s four official languages, as well as their multifaceted interrelations. The topical starting point is provided by the Confederation’s completely revised Vocational and Professional Education and Training Act. The study links linguistic and legal methodologies and shows how the regulations are implemented in the multilingual cantons. The publication grew out of an interdisciplinary research project of the National Research Programme 56 on “Linguistic diversity and competence in Switzerland”. The project is meant to furnish an interdisciplinary approach for a comparison of the linguistic and legal structure within national law and in relation with EU law.

Legal system with four national languages

The publication makes it clear that not only must legislation be shared as closely as possible between French and German in the Confederation and in the Cantons of Berne, Fribourg and Valais but that the Italian and Rhaeto-Romanic legal languages must be integrated more strongly than hitherto in the common legislative process in the Confederation and the cantons. Finally, the study demonstrates that multilingual legislation, and thus also case law, provide a wide variety of exciting research issues for linguistics, translation science and, in law, for jurisprudence, comparative law and constitutional law.

Picture: Photocase / Knallgruen

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