Language of Law: Imperative for Linguistic Simplicity

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Folarin, P
Sobola, E
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Language is a veritable tool of the legal profession as a lawyer's proficiency is sometimes measured in terms of his linguistic dexterity: both verbal and written. However, over the centuries, there seemed to have evolved a distinct language of law usually referred to as legal language. Legal language employs specialised vocabulary and unusual sentence structure which contributes to its peculiarities. It is sometimes cumbersome to understand legal language due to the usage of a large number of difficult words and phrases, arcane expressions, indecipherable verbiage and technical terminologies which are alien to the layman many of which expressions are derived from French and Latin. The crux of this research is to interrogate the legal implication and communicative competence of language in legal discourse both within and beyond the courtroom extending to the drafting of legal documents and interactions between lawyers and clients. The research also examines the trend towards the adoption of plain English in legal discourse and finds out that the interface between law and language is the simplicity of expression.
The paper explores communicative import of language of law. It depicts that arcane expressions and technical terminologies difficult for readers are employed in the construction of legal discourse. It advocates linguistic simplicity in the construction of legal discourse in order for it to achieve communicative competence in lieu of linguistic competence.
Law , Language , Legal discourse , Communicative competence , Linguistic Simplicity