November 16, 2010

The Origins of Legal Language

Peter Tiersma, Loyola Law School (Los Angeles), has published The Origins of Legal Language in the Oxford Handbook on Language and Law (L. Solan and P. Tiersma, eds., 2010). Here is the abstract.

This paper examines the origins of legal language. It begins with a discussion of language in the civil law system, which originated in Rome, was refined in Byzantium, rediscovered in Italy, codified in Prussia and France, and ultimately spread throughout most of Europe and, via colonialism, to many other parts of the world. The common law, which developed in England, was heavily influenced by Anglo-Saxon invaders, Latin-speaking missionaries, and French-speaking Normans. Its language also took root in much of the world via the British empire. Finally, we discuss what might be called mixed legal systems, and we conclude by speculating on the possible effects of globalization on the languages of law.
Download the chapter from SSRN at the link.

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