Writing, Text, and the Law
HANDBOOK OF WRITING RESEARCH, Charles Bazerman, ed., Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Forthcoming
32 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2005
One of the earliest uses of writing was to create a record of legal transactions, as well as setting down the law itself in fixed form. At first, these writings were merely evidentiary. What mattered was the oral ceremony or the memory that people had of their laws and customs. As societies became more literate, the written record became increasingly important, and eventually was an essential component of many legal transactions. Thus, most modern legal systems require that statutes be enacted in writing. The same is true of certain private legal documents, like wills, deeds, and certain types of contracts. Despite the increasing reliance on text, however, there are some surprising and relatively important areas of the law that remain bastions of orality in an otherwise highly literate profession.
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