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ERIC Number: ED308711
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1986-Oct
Pages: 12
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
The Judge as Linguist: Linguistic Principles as a Rule of Law.
Solan, Lawrence
The role of court judges as linguists is discussed. Linguistic issues arise in courts when lawyers attempt to convince a court that a statute, insurance policy, or contract should be interpreted as favoring their own client's interests, with respect to resolving a dispute that depends on the proper construal of a particular document. An examination of what judges say about linguistics and about their role as linguists casts some light on the judicial process. It is maintained that linguistic principles do not operate as the courts claim they do. Moreover, disputes exist even among judges in the same court about both the proper characterization of linguistic rules and their relevance to the decisionmaking process. The "last antecedent rule" is discussed in its application to a California case, "Anderson v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. (1969)." The linguistic processing strategies used with the "last antecedent rule" are also described, and rules governing the interpretation of "the" and "and" are reviewed. It is concluded that the use of linguistic principles can provide legitimacy to the legal system, creating the illusion of science as the basis for decision making. (DJD)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A