Legal English

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Specialised and
popularised English texts
Alessandra Toni
4111491
(Terminology)
Specialised English text
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
(Maja Stanoević)
Source:
http://facta.junis.ni.ac.rs/lal/lal201101/lal20110107
.pdf
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
 HORIZONTAL AXIS: Legal writing
 VERTICAL AXIS: Peer-to-peer
 Specialist to specialist (and semi-specialist)
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
Conventional structure:
 Abstract
 research question
 methodology
 data to analyse
 results to report
 reflection on the results
 conclusion
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
1. «Moves» in the ABSTRACT:
A) Introducing purpose: “ This paper is concerned with legal
English and its potential difficulties that impede comprehension”
B) Describing methodology: “The language characteristics of the
written medium of legal English are going to be dealt with. The
accounts given by some of the authors who have realized the
necessity for language reform are presented. Thus, it is a summary of
different views regarding the use of plain language.”
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
1. «Moves» in the ABSTRACT:
“The paper shows how the general linguistic
features of Legal English, defined in accordance with the principles of plain
English writing, are changing. The complexity i.e., archaic technical terms, and
the overuse of synonymous, redundant and obscure expressions, as well as long
and complex sentences written in the passive voice.”
C) Summarizing results:
“The issue is how to simplify and clarify written
legal documents, so that ordinary citizens, as legal entities with little or no
knowledge of legal matters, can understand them. However, the results of these
efforts still haven't reached all branches of law or types of legal documents, so
there is still plenty of room for improvement. Therefore, the focus of the paper
would be to give the stylistic markers of the general linguistic features that could
encourage lawyers worldwide to write in Plain English.”
D) Presenting conclusions:
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
2. «Moves» in the INTRODUCTION:
A) Establishing field (from «Legal English» to «result»)
Showing centrality: “Legal English is altering like any other
register, but in this case calls for swift changes are coming not
only from citizens and consumers, but also from legal
professionals. “
Stating current knowledge: “Renowned lawyers have begun to
understand that clients' needs are of utmost importance in the
legal profession, so they stressed the urge for language reform
in an attempt to make this obscure and complex language
variety plain and easy to understand.
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
2. «Moves» in the INTRODUCTION:
A) Establishing field (from «Legal English» to «result»)
Ascribing key caracteristics: “In other words, they endeavored to clarify and
simplify this register, so that ordinary people could be familiar with the
rights and obligations that affected them, as they were entitled to. Plain
English movement was born as a result.”
B) Summarizing previous research: “The movement aimed to
simplify legal English, prevent it from being the privilege of a small group of
people who were either legalexperts or legal professionals, and at the same
time enable average people to come to gripswith the task of comprehending
legal texts, which occasionally seemed insurmountable.”
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
2. «Moves» in the INTRODUCTION:
C) Preparing for present research:
“However, in order to perceive the need for such an action to be
taken, one must get a closer look at the linguistic background
as well as linguistic features of legal English, which is an
analysis belonging to the field of stylistics.“
→ No sub-moves such as indicating a gap, question
raising, extend a finding
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
2. «Moves» in the INTRODUCTION:
D) Introducing present research:
Giving the purpose: “The analysis is going to be performed on the written medium of
legal English.”
Describing present research: “It is the language of legal textbooks and legal science,
as well as the language in which laws, statutes, sentences, appeals,
contracts,agreements and other legal documents are written.”
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
 Nominalisation:
 “The accounts given by some of the authors who have realized
the necessity for language reform are presented”
 “so there is still plenty of room for improvement”
 “The avoidance of complex, technical, foreign, redundant, rare,
or jargon words and expressions is considered desirable.
 “ Plain English movement disputed the structural complexity
in legal writing and explored the opportunities for the
shortening of sentences.”
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
 Pre-modification:
 “The issue is how to simplify and clarify written legal documents”

”written legal English is conservative and formal”
 “Plain English movement [...] has been gaining momentum in recent decades.”
 “In addition to vocabulary, the Anglo-Saxon influence in modern Legal English
reflects in the use of alliteration”
 Post-modification:

“Thus, it is a summary of different views regarding the use of plain language.”
 “It was strongly influenced by Latin and French, which used to be languages of the
law.”
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
 Encapsulation:
 “However, in order to perceive the need for such an action to be taken,
one must get a closer look at the linguistic background as well as
linguistic features of legal English”
 “However, the results of these efforts still haven't reached all branches
of law or types of legal documents”
 “In this way internal communication of lawyers is improved, but
individual meanings of terms become obscure for non-lawyers”
 In this case there are no significant “repackaging of information”
or “Grammatical Metaphor”
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
 Depersonalisation
 “The analysis is going to be performed on the written medium
of legal English”
 “Examples of terms which ought to be replaced by more
familiar forms are presented by means of contrastive pairs,
e.g.:”
 “Accounts given by the chosen authors can be summarized in
a bid”
 “It is argued that the choice of words plays an important part
in the ultimate goal of carrying out legal writing in Plain
English”
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
 Lexical Density:
 The text is quite objective and concise, so the
writer tends not to use unnecessary lexicon.
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
 MONOREFERENTIALITY:
→ Legal English, legal writing, laws, statutes, sentences, appeals,
contracts, agreements, constitutions, orders, regulations, insurance
policies, wills etc.
 THE RELATIONSHIP WITH EGP:
 “so there is still plenty of room for improvement”
 ”at the same time enable average people to come to grips with the task
of comprehending legal texts”
 “The endeavor to create unambiguous sentences which would leave no
room for doubt had a reverse effect.”
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
LEXICAL FEATURES
 LEXICAL PRODUCTIVITY:
 Wide-spread, sub-language, non-dynamic etc. +
foreign words used in legal English
 LACK OF EMOTION:
 Objectivity
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
LEXICAL FEATURES
 TRANSPARENCY & AMBIGUITY:
 The text is clear and presents no ambiguities
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
Textual Features:
 Cohesion and cohesive devices:
 e.g. adverbs and conjunctions: Thus, however,
therefore, moreover  majority of “disjuncts”
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
Metadiscourse and author visibility:
 HEDGES:
 “the focus of the paper would be to give the stylistic markers of the general
linguistic features”
 “The endeavor to create unambiguous sentences which would leave no room
for doubt had a reverse effect”
 "Although they have targeted stylistic markers of general features in Legal
English which should be altered and simplified, they depend to a large
degree on the legal document at issue”
 BOOSTERS:
 “Thus, legal English is still preserved in its form and content because some
types of laws and legal documents firmly resist changes.”
 “However, a special attention must be paid when legal meaning differs from
the general meaning.”
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
Metadiscourse and author visibility:
 There are no locational metatexts or engagement and attitude
markers
 RHETORICAL METATEXT :
 e.g. verbs  show, deal with,argue, suggest etc.
 “In addition, due to insufficient punctuation and unusual noun and
prepositional phrases, a language full of verbosity is produced.” ???
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
Metadiscourse and author visibility:

EVIDENTIALS :
 “The paper shows how the general linguistic features of Legal English,
defined in accordance with the principles of plain English writing, are
changing.”

CODE GLOSSES:
 “Renowned lawyers have begun to understand that clients' needs are of
utmost importance in the legal profession, so they stressed the urge for
language reform in an attempt to make this obscure and complex language
variety plain and easy to understand. In other words, they endeavored to
clarify and simplify this register”
→ The Author is not visible
«Legal English – Changing perspective»
Citations
Integral Citations  Garner (2002: 29) considers "several types of
words in legal prose: fancy words, vague words, euphemisms, timid
phrases, empty dogmatisms, and neologisms.”
Non-Integral Citations  Due to French and Latin influence,
English abounds in synonyms. At least threelexical sources gave rise
to a great number of synonyms existing side-by side. (The AngloSaxon word bid versus the Norman French word offer). (Vystrčilova
2000: 91) What complicates legal drafting is the existence of a number
of synonyms referring to the same legal concept, like in the following
examples produced by Haigh (2004: 40).
Popularised English text
«The judge who writes like a paperback novelist»
Source:
http://www1.uwindsor.ca/law/news/tanovich-on-justice-watts-judgment-writing-style
25
«The judge who writes like a paperback novelist»
HORIZONTAL AXIS: Legal writing
VERTICAL AXIS: Specialist to lay public
26
«The judge who writes like a paperback novelist»
Pre-modification:
 “Ontario Court of Appeal Judge David Watt, a jurist once known
for using complex sentence structure and legalistic embellishment,
has transformed himself into a writer more in the vein of American
best-selling novelist Elmore Leonard.”
 “Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Antonio Lamer”
 “Judge Watt launched a ruling that overturned a domestic murder
conviction with literary panache”
27
«The judge who writes like a paperback novelist»
LEXICAL FEATURES
CONCISENESS:
Economy:
“This is another excellent piece of work by one of Canada’s finest
criminal law jurists,” a Manitoba judge, speaking anonymously, said of
the Flores decision.”
”However, others are irked by Judge Watt’s light-handed touch”
Lexical productivity
28
«The judge who writes like a paperback novelist»
LEXICAL FEATURES
Monoreferentiality:
Judge, jurist, legalistic, murder case etc.
Cohesion and cohesive devices:
“However, others are irked by [...]”
“More recently, his judgements on the appeal court
have begun to [...]”
29
«The judge who writes like a paperback novelist»
Metadiscourse and author visibility:
HEDGES and BOOSTERS:
“However, others are irked by [...] his apparent disregard
for the conventional wisdom that the author of a judgement
ought to be an invisible presence.”
“Judge Watt’s trial judgements tended to be clear but
were written very much in a traditional form.”
30
«The judge who writes like a paperback novelist»
Metadiscourse and author visibility:
•No locational and engagement markers or evidencials
Attitude Markers
“A prominent judge whose decisions are sometimes reminiscent of
crime novels is causing a rumble amongst traditionalists who favour
solemn rulings.”
Rhetorical metatext
Prof. Tanovich has argued almost 100 cases in senior appellate courts
[...]
31
«The judge who writes like a paperback novelist»
Metadiscourse and author visibility:
Code glosses:
“Notoriously dry legal fields such as contract law can stand some lively
writing.”
“But criminal law is not one of them,” said Prof. Tanovich, a law clerk for
former Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Antonio Lamer.”
“Lord Denning, a fabled member of the British House of Lords, was known
for bold, creatively crafted judgements.”
“In the U.S., Judge James B. Zagel – a veteran federal court judge [...]”
«The judge who writes like a paperback novelist»
Citations
Non-Integral Citations  “On a cold weekend in late January
2000, the lengthy but brittle relationship among Michael Luciano,
Colleen Richardson-Luciano and James Cooper ended. Abruptly
and violently. First, in Woodbridge. Then, in Egmondville. Two
deaths. Colleen Richardson-Luciano died first. In Woodbridge.
Stabbed to death. A day later, James Cooper died in Egmondville.
By asphixia from strangulation.” - R v Luciano. May, 2010.
33
To sum up
Main common features between the specialized and the
popularized text:
-
Pre-modifications
Metadiscourse and author visibility:
-
No lexical density
- No locational or engagement markers
-
Lexical productivity
- Code glosses
-
Conciseness
-
Monoreferenciality
-
Hedges and boosters
- Non-Integral Citations
34
To sum up
Main different features between the specialized and the
popularized text:
-
No NOMINALISATION, ENCAPSULATION and DEPERSONALISATION in the
popularized text
Metadiscourse and author visibility:
-
EVIDENCIALS in the specialized text
-
ATTITUDE MARKERS in the popularized text
- No INTEGRAL CITATIONS in the popularized text
The author is more visible in the popularized text
35
Bibliography
• G. GARZONE, Perspectives on ESP and Popularization, CUEM, Milano,
2006.
• V. BHATIA, Analysing Genre. Language Use in Professional Settings,
Longman, London, 1993.
• F. SCARPA, La traduzione specializzata, Hoepli, Milano, 2008.
• M. GOTTI, Specialized Discourse. Linguistic Features and Changing
Conventions, Peter Lang, Bern, 2003.
• C. ALBORGHETTI-S. PIREDDU, Text Typology in Specialised Discourse.
EDUCatt, Milano, 2013, Vol. 2.
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