2018 | 2(37) | 117-126
Article title

Historical Background to English Legal Language

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The article attempts to provide an explanation why the English legal language is so complex and so difficult to understand especially for the lay people. Also mentioned are the attempts that have been made to simplify it. The paper also describes its development throughout history. It maintains that legal English is the result of history and political and social processes ongoing in the given historical period. This language is basically the reflection of the social and political conditions of the given historical period, and each period has left its mark on the current form of the language at issue. It reflects the influence of Anglo-Saxon mercenaries, Latinspeaking missionaries, Scandinavian and Norman war tribes. As it is highlighted further in the text, English has been used in various types of legal documents at different times. Last wills and testaments started to be drafted in English around 1400. Laws were written in Latin until around 1300, in French until about 1485, in English and French for a few more years and exclusively in English since 1489. The paper contains a number of the words and expressions related to law which are used even today and provides their etymology, at least as far the language of its origin is concerned. Also provided are expressions that were replaced with new ones, simpler, more understandable legal terms within reforms.
Physical description
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Publication order reference
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