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Legal Language

Statutes, judicial opinions, contracts, deeds, and wills profoundly affect our daily lives, but their language tends to be often nearly impossible to understand. In this lively history of legal language, Peter Tiersma slices through the thicket of legalese, explaining where it comes from, why lawyers continue to cling to it, and why it’s doesn’t have to be an inevitable feature of our legal system.

"Legal Language will resonate with lawyers . . . and any non-lawyer who has waded through legal documents, or has tuned in to the latest trial on Court TV."—Carmie D. Boccuzzi, Jr., Boston Book Review

"[A] masterful, highly readable, and enjoyable book. . . . Legal Language is truly a fun book to read."—David Schultz, Law and Politics Book Review

328 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1999

Language and Linguistics: Language and Law

Law and Legal Studies: Legal Thought

Rhetoric and Communication

Table of Contents

1: Celts, Anglo-Saxons, and Danes
2: The Norman Conquest and the Rise of French
3: The Resurgence of English
4: Talking Like a Lawyer
5: The Quest for Precision
6: The Legal Lexicon
7: Interpretation and Meaning
8: Variation
9: Pleadings: Constructing the Legal Narrative
10: Testimony and Truth
11: Completing the Story
12: What Makes Legal Language Difficult to Understand?
13: Plain English
14: Communicating with the Jury
App. A: An Anglo-Saxon Legal Document
App. B: A Case in Law French
App. C: A Modern Will
App. D: Excerpts from Jury Instructions
App. E: Original Citibank Promissory Note
App. F: Revised Citibank Promissory Note
Select Bibliography
Word and Phrase Index
General Index

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