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ERIC Number: ED169758
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978
Pages: 22
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: N/A
Legal Language: What Is It and What Can We Do About It?
Charrow, Veda R.; Crandall, Jo Ann
The simplification of legal language is required by President Carter's Executive Order requiring "clear and simple English" in government regulations. A major problem in the simplification process is the absence of any adequate description or classification of legal language. This paper defines some specific features of legal language, its functions within the legal community and society as a whole, and discusses some aspects of the simplification of legal language. Like any dialect, legal language serves separating, unifying, and prestige functions. In addition, it requires a lengthy acquisition process, undergoes change and growth, and has identifying syntactic features. Recent research suggests that there is more to legal language than lexicon. For example, a study of the comprehension of standard jury instructions points out several linguistic features which appear to typify legalese but are not common in other varieties of English. Attempts to simplify legal language have been generally of two types: (1) readability indices or formulas which measure symptoms of incomprehensibility; and (2) a rhetorical or editing approach that emphasizes the reader's point of view. It is suggested that research in the comprehension of nonlegal language can provide insight into the linguistic barriers to comprehension of legal language. (Author/AMH)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Legal Language
Note: Paper presented at the New Wave Conference of the American Dialect Society (7th, Washington, D.C., November 4, 1978)