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Reflection On Plain Legal English

Posted on:2011-01-14Degree:MasterType:Thesis
Country:ChinaCandidate:Y SongFull Text:PDF
GTID:2166360305481324Subject:Contrastive Forensic Linguistics
Abstract/Summary:PDF Full Text Request
Its critics notwithstanding, legal English has for a long time taken a pride in being a professional language for lawyers while in accordance with many laypeople it appears ill-knitted, inflexible, obscure and difficult to understand. As such, there is an ongoing appeal that legal English should become plainer and easier to comprehend for the ordinary people. As a matter of fact, a so-called"Plain English Movement"has thus long been launched in the English-speaking countries and it has exerted significant effects upon the English language, of course, including legal English. The truth is that legal English, under the impact of the"Plain English Movement,"has changed considerably and has, more or less, simplified in many aspects, though it is really impractical to expect that legal English would become as simple and casual as everyday English.While much has been said on the subject of"Plain Legal English,"as of most of the literatures seem to fall virtually within the ambit of the theoretical observations, i.e., on the macro level researches. In that sense, the empirical study of"Plain Legal English"is still promising and thus a great deal is worth doing at the micro stratum, i.e., practical level.The present endeavor tends to focus on the justification, modes, process and significance of plain legal English. At the very beginning, the author, by way of a contrastive study, examines the linguistic features of legal English and the historical factors that contribute to the features. Since recent years has witnessed a continual process of simplification and clarification of legal English, apart form the definitions and meanings of modern Plain English Movement and the Movement towards Plain Legal English, the price that any movement pays for even a modest success is discussed here to help people to view the critics in an objective way, which including the so-called old as well as the rather new criticism of plain legal English. The author also points out that while evaluating the virtue of"simplicity and precision"of legal English, the word"and"is to be highlighted because neither of the concepts shall be sacrificed for the other.The present endeavor goes further to observe other aspects of plain legal English, touching with the fundamental empirical matters of simplification from the point of view of the typology and genre of legal language at issue, as well as the audience to whom it is addressed. At the same time a shrewd and sober reflection is cast on the"Plain Legal English"so as to help people to have an overall view of the movement.The simplification of three types of legal texts—legislative drafting, consumer documents and jury instructions is examined in detail in the present study which serves as a good illustration to enumerate achievements as well as demerits of the movement. The recognition must be claimed of the limitation of using the plain English language in legislative drafting. Better still, plain language is not omnipotent like a"one-size-fits-all"device. The real solution to inaccessible legislation is good quality plus plain language explanations. Generally speaking, the legal realm in which the plain English language is preferable seems to be concerned with consumer documents and jury instructions, where the Plain English Movement has reached a memorable achievement.
Keywords/Search Tags:plain legal English, reflection, legislative drafting, consumer documents, jury instructions
PDF Full Text Request
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