The Origins of Legal Language

OXFORD HANDBOOK ON LANGUAGE AND LAW, L. Solan, P. Tiersma, eds., 2010

Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2009-45

26 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2010 Last revised: 4 Dec 2011

Peter Tiersma

Loyola Marymount University, Loyola Law School (Deceased)

Date Written: October 20, 2010

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Tiersma, Peter, The Origins of Legal Language (October 20, 2010). OXFORD HANDBOOK ON LANGUAGE AND LAW, L. Solan, P. Tiersma, eds., 2010; Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2009-45. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1695226

Peter M. Tiersma (Contact Author)

Loyola Marymount University, Loyola Law School (Deceased)

United States

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