The Origins of Legal Language
OXFORD HANDBOOK ON LANGUAGE AND LAW, L. Solan, P. Tiersma, eds., 2010
26 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2010 Last revised: 4 Dec 2011
Date Written: October 20, 2010
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.
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