Chapter published in:Legal Pragmatics
Edited by Dennis Kurzon and Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 288] 2018
► pp. 101–116
Chapter 5Making legal language clear to legal laypersons
It is widely accepted that the legal sub-language – the language of the written law, court discussions, and legal documents – needs rephrasing in order to make it understandable to legal laypersons. Adler (2012) holds that this is possible: legal texts can be rephrased in plain language (rather than in “legalese”). The features that need rephrasing in order to make the legal language understandable to legal laypersons concern both the rich technical vocabulary of the legal sub-language and its syntactic complexity. There is, moreover, a third feature that makes the legal sub-language impenetrable for laypersons – implicit intertextual and interdiscursive links. It is the combination of these three features – the rich technical vocabulary, the syntactic complexity, and implicit intertextuality (intertextual links presented without lucid reference to their explanations) – that makes the legal sub-language impenetrable.The legal sub-language is, naturally, the language used by legal experts in order to communicate with one another. Obviously, legal experts are supposed to know the relevant legal background knowledge of legal texts they work with; therefore, like other human communicators, authors of legal texts imply legal background knowledge, including the background knowledge relevant to their messages, rather than present it explicitly. The point of this analysis is that it is this implied professional knowledge which makes it hard for legal laypersons to understand legal texts.
- 1.Introduction: The legal sub-language
- 2.1 Revising the text faults
- 2.2Downloading intertextual links
- 2.3Deriving authoritative answers
- 3. Conclusion
Law and verdicts
Published online: 26 April 2018
Dror, Judith. In press. “The Modes of Action of Jews in the Muslim Public Sphere in Morocco: Linguistic and Pragmatic Analysis of Legal Texts”. Peamim 148–149: 9–31 [in Hebrew].
Bhatia, Vijay, K.
Charrow, Robert. P. and Charrow, Veda R.
Hirschman, Lynette and Sager, Naomi
Lauridsen, Karen. M.
Levelt, Willem J. M. and Wheeldon, Linda
Levinson, Stephen C.
1972 [1896–7] “On Thought Experiments”. Translated and adapted by W. O. Price and Sheldon Krimsky. http://web.mit.edu/redingtn/www/netadv/PHmach.html, accessed on November 16, 2017
Swales, John M., and Bhatia Vijay K.
Law and verdicts
Criminal Appeal 196/64
The Legal Adviser to the Government vs. Bash
Criminal Appeal, 322/87
Dror vs. the State of Israel, Verdicts 723(3)
Criminal Appeal, 402/87
State of Israel vs. Jondi, Verdicts 393(3)
Criminal Appeal 103/88
Moshe Lichtman vs. the State of Israel [6.9.1989] Verdicts 373 (3).
Cited by 2 other publications
Martínez, Eric, Francis Mollica & Edward Gibson
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 31 march 2022. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.