words to indicate the person who was the recipient or object of an action; adjectives that follow nouns as in attorney general, letters testamentary, malice aforethought.
But as the language for legal purposes, Latin and French were only used by people of the upper class and by legal professionals. So soon after its ascendancy to
be the predominant language of the law, French declined to be a living language and finally started to be replaced by English in the legal field in the late 15
century. Along with the colonization of the British Empire, English common law and
legal English were transported to many countries in the world, including North America. Yet, the English legal language of these two systems are not identical.
There are different concepts as well as different words for similar concepts. For example, there is no distinction between solicitor and barrister in the United States as
in Britain; and American corporate law is equivalent to British company law.
18.104.22.168 Linguistic features of English legal language
Since the 1980s, there has been a growing number of studies into the field of English legal language. Some notable studies are those of Bhatia, Melinkoff, Maley
and Tiersma. In this section, their findings will be summarized in terms of lexical, syntactic and textual features of English legal language.
22.214.171.124.1. Lexical features
Perhaps the lexicology of legal English is the most distinctive feature making it highly specialized.
a Technical vocabulary
Legal English makes use of a great deal of terminology that is generally unfamiliar to the lay audience. These are words and phrases like restrictive covenant,
restraint of trade, promissory estoppel, etc. - restrictive covenant: clause in a contract which prevents someone from
doing something - restraint of trade: i situation where a worker is not allowed to move to
another job in the same trade, ii attempt by companies to fix prices or create monopolies or reduce competition, which could affect free trade
- promissory estoppel: promise made by one person to another, so that the second person relies on the promise and acts to his detriment, and the first person is
stopped from denying the validity of the promise Dictionary of Law, Collin: 1993
Many words and phrases have a peculiar meaning, completely different from their ordinary meaning. For example, consideration is a common ordinary word but
in legal English, it means the price but not necessarily money paid by one person in exchange for the other person promising to do something, an essential element in the
formation of a contract Dictionary of Law, Collin: 1993: 53. Other examples are personal property, construction, prefer, redemption, furnish, hold, etc.
b Unusual and archaic words and phrases
Many words and phrases in legal English have their origins in French or Latin, as described above. Some examples are proposal, effect, society, assurance, insured,
schedule, duly, signed, agreeing, policy, subject, rules, form, terms, conditions, date, entrance, accepted French origins; basis, table, declaration, registered, stated, part
Latin origins. Unfamiliar pronouns like the same, the said, the aforementioned are used not
to replace the nouns, but to supplement them, as in the said John Smith. Here-, there- and where- words and their derivatives -at, -in, -after, -before,
-with, -by, -above, -on, -upon, etc, which are uncommon in ordinary English, are used primarily to avoid the repetition of names of things in the document or of the
document itself. The parties to this contract shall then be reduced to the parties hereto.
Legal English makes great use of wordy and redundant phrases where the use of a single word would be enough: at slow speed instead of slowly, subsequent to
instead of after, etc.
126.96.36.199.2. Syntactic features a Word and phrase levels