2.1 McEvoy

| September 2, 2020

Sebastian McEvoy. (2012). Foreward. International Journal of Law, Language & Discourse 2(1), i-viii.

Abstract: Comparative law usually compares different legal systems and more particularly, within those systems, rules of law over similar issues. In the double context of the several trends towards legal globalisation, unification or harmonisation and linguistic diversity, legal multiplicity is here put in parentheses, except as resulting from linguistic multiplicity. All the papers in this special issue on “Law and Linguistic Multiplicities” address questions related to the oneness of law (or adjudication) despite its multiple linguistic versions, the oneness of each language given its multiple categories, the oneness of law in each language despite its multiple possible interpretations. The terms, firstly, are not different legal systems and, across those systems, different rules over similar issues, but the formulations in different languages of legal principles or rules that should remain constant whatever the language and whatever its cultural specificity. Secondly, each language is multiple in that it includes multiple categories of that language (genres, branches, modalities, uses et cetera). Thus, the languages of litigation and AMDR (Alternative Modes of Dispute Resolution) are or were initially intended to be different. Indeed, legal language is so different from ordinary language that diverse attempts have been made within a single language to make legal language understandable for the layman. Moreover, within a single legal system, there are several branches of the law, for instance criminal law and civil law, with different categories, and correspondingly different languages with different terms. The issues that those intra-linguistic comparisons raise revolve around the effects of the categorisation and the interaction between the different categories. For instance, what is the effect of having the same professions operate in different linguistic or discursive categories or of shifting a relationship from one legal category to another? Thirdly and lastly, the terms of linguistic multiplicity are not only different languages, such as Chinese, English or French, and the different linguistic categories within a single language, for instance ordinary English and legal English, but also the different interpretations of the same principles or rules as expressed in one language. The questions that all those comparisons raise are whether legal oneness subsists otherwise than as a fiction in its linguistic or interpretative multiplicity and if not, how the differences are to be ordered for the legal principles or rules to operate pragmatically as guidelines for action. Such, then, are the several issues explored in this special issue on “Law and Linguistic Multiplicities”, with papers, written by linguistics, argumentation theorists and academic or practicing lawyers, on European Union, Dutch, English, Italian, South African or US law.


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Category: Volume 2