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date: 18 October 2018

Abstract and Keywords

All legal systems develop certain linguistic features that differ from those of ordinary language. Lawyers and judges may develop language that is entirely different from ordinary speech. Typically, the legal profession uses language that contains a substantial amount of technical vocabulary and a number of distinct (often archaic) features. As a result, the speech, and to a greater extent, the texts produced by such legal systems may be difficult for the lay public to understand. This article explores the history of the world's major legal languages, focusing on the two most widely dispersed legal traditions around the world: the civil law system that arose in continental Europe and the common law which developed in England. After considering the legacy of Roman law, it discusses the influence of Latin and French on legal language, the jus commune and the survival of indigenous law, codification, legal English around the world, and the globalization of legal language.

Keywords: legal systems, legal language, Europe, civil law, common law, England, jus commune, codification, globalization

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