ERIC Number: ED214372
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1981-Sep
Reference Count: N/A
Linguistic Theory and the Study of Legal and Bureaucratic Language. Document Design Project, Technical Report No. 16.
Charrow, Veda R.
This paper studies legal language from three perspectives. First, legal language is defined as the variety of English that lawyers, judges, and other members of the legal community use in the course of their work. In a second section, it reviews descriptions of legal language by lawyers, linguists, and social scientists. These studies indicate that legal language is marked by distinctive features at the levels of discourse, syntax, and lexicon. It appears to violate many rules of ordinary usage; it shares with bureaucratic language many unusual grammatical and syntactic features. On the lexical level, it uses common words with uncommon meanings, as well as jargon and words whose intent is to achieve either vagueness or extreme precision. Finally, four areas of linguistic theory are examined to determine how these areas relate to legal and bureaucratic language. Historical linguistics, grammatical theories, sociolinguistics, and linguistic meta-theories are considered as areas that could illuminate and clarify legal language. These areas could also be enriched by the study of this variety of exceptional language. (AMH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: American Institutes for Research in the Behavioral Sciences, Washington, DC.