Characteristics of Legal English

The Application of the Ancient Glossary and External Glossary

Joining some ancient glossary into legal English suitably may furnish some gravity to the literary style, and entitle the authority to legal English. For example: Hereby “由此”, Herein “其中”,Hereof “至此”,Hereafter “在下文”, thereof “因此”,Whereby “靠那个”.etc.

At the meantime, the appliance of these ancient English words adds certain obscurity to legal English. It makes the language expressions less concise and brings much trouble to the non-legal readers.

The external glossary borrowed massively in legal English mainly refers to the Latin glossary and French glossary, which concerns with the historical vicissitude of English legal language. Before Norman conquering England, the use of English and Latin was widespread, and the imperial decrees or laws as well as the trial program and so on were published in English, but Charter and Land book were commonly used in English, sometimes also in Latin.

After that, French became popular, and due to the progressive prosperity of the imperial court and the gradual decline of the local court, French surpassed English and became the mainstream language. This situation maintained continuously to 15 centuries, faded in 16th century, and ended completely in 17th century [2]. According to the analysis above, presently legal English has contained massive loan words. For example:

Latin: declaration, register, convict, detention, jury, deprive, and French: insurance, attorney, plaintiff, plead, defendant, agreeable arrest etc. And some words entering the ordinary English glossary but still retaining Latin appearance. Just as:

the jus retentiouis= the right of retention (留置权)

oblogatio solidaria= the joint obligation or joint debt (连带债务)

per stirpes= the succession by subrogation (代位继承)

Read Also: Characteristics of Legal English II

And the phrase of the reservation French original such as:

the alien or alience (转让)

feme covert (已婚女子)

negotiorum gestor (无权代理)

The officers of the court have formed a set of legal terminology gradually in the long-term application process because of the special requests of legal language including accuracy and distinction, such as: Ordinary legal glossary and legal terminology.

Quite a part of ordinary legal glossaries in legal English have originated from current English, because of the use by the officer of the court for a long time, the lexical meaning used in the legal literature have already been specified, thus has become the technical expression in legal English.

The sole difference between the legal terminology lies in: The legal terminology is owned by the legal literature exclusively; they cannot appear in another literary style. But the ordinary legal glossary only used in the legal literature is the law technical expression, For example:

limitation (诉讼时效)

minor (未成年人)

average (海损)

review (复审)

omission (不作为)

affirmance (上级法院为此下级法院的判决)

To be similar with other subjects, legal English also has his own topical glossary. These topical glossaries make the legal language more accurate, easer and more comfortable. For example:

tort(侵权)and agency(代理).

“Tort” refers to the right infringement. Person engaged in the legal work can associate to three essential factors of the right infringement as soon as they mention this word: the first one is the existence of the legal obligation; The second is to violate to the obligation; The third is the occurrence of the harm caused directly by violating to the obligation. However, agency refers to the proxy. “In the civil law, as soon as mentioned the proxy, they can think of agent, principal and the concerned person”(唐文,1996).

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“Agency” refers to that: the actor implements the legal acts directly according to the power of attorney, but the results of the actor belongs to attorney in his name. Furthermore they can associate this word with the legal concepts such as: Statutory agent, Designated agent and the Trust agent. There are many similar glossaries, due to the restricted of the length of contend, this paper will no longer give examples one by one.

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