Legal English – a Good Combination of Precision and Intricacy
Legal English is the application of the English language in the field of legal affairs, the characteristics of which are majorly formed in legislative and judicial events through the evolution process of western legal systems. Ergo, not only are there numerous legal terminologies assigned with particular meanings or indications for legal use in nowaday legal lexicon, but also strict grammatical rules that govern how English should be used to stipulate legal terms like rights and obligations, and to interpret laws and decrees, covenants or any other legal contents. In this sense, no exaggeration, implication, or subjective emotions of any kind should be incorporated in the English language for legal use.
This is especially worth extra attention when it comes to legal translation, which requires most precision and rigorousness because any minor mistakes in the translation could cause totally false understanding of the legal terms concerned and thus cause irreversible damages or wreck the relationship, whatever category it might fall into, between the signed parties. A notorious example of its kind is the English version of Warsaw Convention which came into force in 1929. The English translation of the Convention has been widely accused of being inaccurate and inflicting legal argument in countless cases.
Legal English can be seen as the English language in utter awareness of seriousness and deliberation because it is endowed with the mission to realize the will of ruling class of the society. Thus, the language should be as specific in meaning as possible, which well eliminates the possibility of introducing rhetoric expressions in the language.
Another noticeable feature of legal English is the adoption of a great many words in ancient/Latin vocabularies. In legislation works, a good number of words of Latin, French, German or Spanish root can be easily found and play an important role in the actual application of legal English. Other than the borrowed words from outside languages, many old school Middle English words have been passed down in the use of English in legislation works, which is thought to highlight the divinity and authority of legal works.
Seen as giddy by many though, the use of English in legal affairs has evolved into an art of complexity and intricacy and has composed a dispensable part of English literary sphere. As to the translation of legal contents, there are good possibilities that the stylistic features could play a determinant role in distinguishing quality and mediocre translation works and will make all the difference.
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