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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1130863
 
 

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The Pragmatics of Legal Language


Andrei Marmor


University of Southern California - Gould School of Law

May 2008

USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 08-11

Abstract:     
In most standard cases, the content of the law is tantamount to the content that is communicated by the relevant legal authority. It has been long noticed by linguists and philosophers of language, however, that the content of linguistic communication is not always fully determined by the meaning of the words and sentences uttered. Semantics and syntax are essential vehicles for conveying communicative content, but the content conveyed is very often pragmatically enriched by other factors. My purpose in this essay is to explore some of the pragmatic aspects of understanding what the law communicates. I argue that in some respects the pragmatics of legal language is unique, sometimes uniquely problematic. Exploring those problems forms one of the aims of this essay. But I suggest that we can do more than that: by drawing on the distinctions between the various pragmatic aspects of language use, we should be able to offer some generalizations about types of pragmatic enrichment that could be taken to form, or not to form, part of what is actually determined by legal expressions.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 44

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Date posted: May 8, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Marmor, Andrei, The Pragmatics of Legal Language (May 2008). USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 08-11. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1130863 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1130863

Contact Information

USC Law RPS Submitter (Contact Author)
USC Gould School of Law ( email )
699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-2551 (Phone)
213-740-5502 (Fax)

Andrei Marmor
University of Southern California - Gould School of Law ( email )
699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-821-5437 (Phone)
213-740-2551 (Fax)

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