Language-and-Law Scholarship: An Interdisciplinary Conversation and a Post-9/11 Example

Posted: 5 Nov 2014

See all articles by Elizabeth Mertz

Elizabeth Mertz

University of Wisconsin - Madison; American Bar Foundation

Jothie Rajah

American Bar Foundation

Date Written: November 2014

Abstract

Language-and-law research is now an established field for study, with decades of development behind it. And yet the field remains fragmented, with disparate streams of scholarship that, ironically, tend to speak in different languages: linguistic anthropology, discourse studies, semiotics, literary theory and rhetoric, translation studies, sociolinguistics, legal philosophy, and more. On one hand, this broad variety speaks to the robust character of language-and-law studies as a focus for relatively diverse scholarly endeavors. And for a number of reasons, it seems likely that the separate schools of thought in this area will generally continue to pursue their often distinct paths. On the other hand, as this article argues, a careful reading of work in the area reveals the potential for a productive conversation among some very different perspectives. Such a conversation offers the promise of creating exciting bridges among law, the social sciences, and the humanities. It also draws together interest in a variety of kinds of language: spoken, gestural, written, visual. This kind of bridge, we suggest, is one of the gifts of the truly interdisciplinary space opened up by sociolegal research — it permits us to combine quite diverse kinds of knowledge in our quest to more fully understand closely related legal phenomena. In this article, we also combine two different kinds of disciplinary voices, inviting the reader to assess what insights about law arise from these voices separately and, perhaps, together.

Suggested Citation

Mertz, Elizabeth Ellen and Rajah, Jothie, Language-and-Law Scholarship: An Interdisciplinary Conversation and a Post-9/11 Example (November 2014). Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 10, pp. 169-183, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2519019 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-lawsocsci-102612-133958

Elizabeth Ellen Mertz (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Jothie Rajah

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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