Silvia Cacchiani

Performativity and Modal Meanings in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice

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This paper discusses performativity, modal meanings and directive speech acts in a small sample of ECJ cases written in Court French and then translated into so-called Bruxellish. Insights from philosophy of law, legal communication and legal linguistics on the one hand, and from recent investigations into the semantics of modality and imperatives on the other, will enable us to take the first steps in reassessing the role of performativity in uttering legal expressions. Pre-theoretical discussion and description of the meaning and linguistic realisations of (priority) deontic modal meanings will follow. As will be seen, the main factors behind drafting and translating performativity and priority modal meanings are: the legitimacy ascribed to law and institution, construed as a collective entity; the ongoing politically-driven effort to create a superordinate but unifying law; the importance of equal effect and uniform intent of the instrument.


  • Performativity
  • Dominant EU Lingua Francas
  • ECJ Cases


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