Monday, 28 September 2009


The Companion to British History defines this as suspect linguistic usage in which familiar expressions convey different concepts from those generally understood.

The most important cases are (fam means the familiar meaning in English, ES the meaning in Eurospeak):

Council: (fam) a local authority; (ES) the European legislature.

Directive: (fam) an important rule requiring obedience enforced by a sanction; (ES) a direction to a member country to alter its law, but not in force until it does so.

European: pertaining to the geographical European continent; (ES) pertaining to the area of the EEC or EU for the time being.

Parliament: (fam) a sovereign legislature; (ES) an official discussion forum at Strasbourg.

Regulation: (fam) a minor rule made under law; (ES) the most important kind of rule, superior even to an Act of Parliament.


OutEast said...

Hmm... Both the 'familiar' definitions and the 'European' ones seem rather interestingly selective. 'Council', for instance: yes, it has the meaning familiar from 'local councils' - but that's merely one of many familiar meanings (I have 7 definitions in my dictionary), and a rather idiosyncratic one at that. What about Ecumenical Councils, the United Nations Security Council, the Privy Council, the Council of Elders of the Bundestag, Research Councils, the Bar Council, the Council of Five Elders, the Executive Council of the African Union...?

And 'directive': EU directives are 'directives' as generally understood (certainly as defined in my dictionary, which does not exactly concur with the CtBH: did they do any research, I wonder, or just intuit the 'familiar' meanings of these words?). EU Directives just happen to be directed at national governments... but they are binding, and they are enforced by sanctions (prosecution in the European Court of Justice, to be exact).

And 'an official discussion forum' seems an odd way of redefining an elected body that passes laws, has the power to approve or reject European Commissioners, and has joint authority over the budget - in all of which it is approximately, though not exactly, analogous to bodies such as - oh, I dunno - the House of Commons? (Now there's a name that doesn't exactly correspond with the 'familiar' meanings of the words!).

Tish to the Companion to British History, and likewise Tosh!

Tony said...

There was no "they", just one chap.
I am sure that what you say is absolutely right, but I got so bored copying out this post that I would really rather just forget the thing.