Linguistics and the Human Sciences, Vol 14, No 1-2 (2018)

Popularity of Latin and Law French in Legal English: A corpus-based disciplinary study of the language of the law

Chuanyou Yuan, Shaomin Zhang, Qingshun He
Issued Date: 10 Apr 2020


This paper is a pilot study of the Language of the Law (or Legal English), a subsidiary of a broader research project on the Disciplinary English (DE), from the perspective of SFL. It starts with reviewing Halliday's seven features or difficulties of scientific English that are presumably shared by Legal English. Then, the features of legal English identified by Forensic linguists, Mellinkoff and Tiersma among others are also perused. Subsequently, this paper focuses on and examines a particular feature, that is, the alleged ‘popular use' of Latin and Law French in contemporary legal English. We build a small corpus consisting of journal articles (or academic papers) and legal textbooks to examine their frequency in the corpus and analyze their uses and users (authors and readers) by means of instantiation. The findings include Latin and law French are still active in legal text and they tend to occur more in legal journals than in legal textbooks. The findings are of implication to the teaching and learning of legal English.

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DOI: 10.1558/lhs.37190


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