Teaching implications of linguistics with reference to Legal English
IN A LEGAL ENGLISH
2013. I.F.D.C. SAN LUIS.
STUDENT: ADELA PEREZ
HISTORY OF THE LANGUAGE AND
In our Legal English course we work on the following topics, related to
**THE HISTORY OF ENGLISH and the borrowing of LATIN and FRENCH
TERMS. How the powerful in charge of the Government were the ones that
highly penetrated the language of law through History.
They were: a) the Romans. B) After 1166, the French.
**French words can be seen all through a quick revision of LEGAL ENGLISH:
--all words ending in “ee” and “or” (adresee, adressor, etc)./ words ending with
–age: salvage, demurage, anchorage, damage.
**Latin words are used in their original structure but with different
--prima facie / ab initio / actus reus.
--pro bono. /a fortiori / quid pro quo.
COMPARISON BETWEEN LEGAL
ENGLISH AND LEGAL SPANISH:
USE OF REDUNDANCE: (violation of one of the four rules of
Conversation, quality, quantity, relevance and manner.) Ex: false and untrue/ sole and
exclusive/ The same in Spanish.
USE OF COMPOSED or COMPOUND WORDS: Herein, Hereinafter, Herewith, hereto,
AVOIDANCE OF ELYPSIS: in the need to avoid ambiguity and imprecision.
LOTS OF FALSE FRIENDS: Magistrates; Section (meaning “article”), Prejudicial.
SPANISH PERIPHRASIS (lots of roundabout expressions in Spanish, meaning short
expressions in English): Ex: R.O.T. Clause – Insider trading- ext.
DENOTATION AND CONNOTATION: When contrasting
plain language and Legal language. The denotation
utterly changes. Example: “CONSIDERATION”.
AMBIGUITY: The need to avoid semantic and syntactic
ambiguity when drafting a contract. (the same happens in
We can say that we need to avoid a wrong reference or
wrong use of deixis, since confusion as regards
place, time and persons in charge of the rights and
obligations would be highly perjudicial for a legal
COLLOCATION: Legal English has its own collocations
that we need to teach to Students.
FACE AND POLITENESS
IN LEGAL ENGLISH.
POLITENESS is something quite important in Legal English. Both simple
“Politeness” (since we sublimize a lot of violence through the law) and
I have had the opportunity to use this topic in order to EXPLAIN WHY WE
SHOULD MODALIZE some expressions in a Letter of Advice:
I explained to a st. the idea of FACE and that we should try to cope with the
needs of the face of the adresee.
Therefore, we should avoid telling our client: “ You should go to the
hearing”, and replace it with all forms of modalization:
“I highly reccomend that you be at the hearing if possible”.
“I strongly advise you to abide the Court decision…”
a) Our experience (Prof. Mauricio Muñoz and I) in class, at the Colegio de
Abogados de San Luis.
b) KROIS-LINDNER A., International Legal English, Cambridge U.P. 2009.