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Date of Award

1980

Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Arts (D.A.)

Department

Graduate School

First Advisor

Robert Cox

First Committee Member

John Seaman[?]

Second Committee Member

[?]

Abstract

Lawyers have recently become a favorite target for criticism from both within and without their profession; nowhere are they more vulnerable than in their use of the English language. Whether they imitate cuttlefish by obscuring their paths with ink or simply reflect the complexity of twentieth century civilization with their language presents a question not soon to be resolved. Yet since law must serve society and since language must serve law, the questions concerning lawyers' uses and abuses of language will continue to press. Though common in casual debate, most generalizations about the language of lawyers are difficult--if not impossible-- to support. Hence, it is necessary to confront the problem in terms of particulars. Since the language of the law is neither homogenous nor distinctly separate from other varieties of English, it does not yield easily to generic analysis. Yet analyzed it must be. I would like to suggest that analysis should be confined to the specific document, the specific sentence and the specific word that appear within that vast array of discourse which has been dubbed "the language of the law." The purpose of this article is to present one such specific inquiry as an avenue for suggesting, primarily by example, an analytical model that might be useful for similar inquiries, both to lawyers and to others who share an interest in the language of lawyers. I would like to design a model whose elements would accommodate any sample of legal language, one that would serve the draftsmen, editors, and critics of statutes, judicial opinions, pleadings, contracts, warranties, briefs and--in short--the whole panoply of legal documents. Yet the very diversity of those documents will compel this article-length presentation to fall short of that aspiration. Thus, the discussion that follows must be read as one of a potentially infinite number of such discussions, with all of the deficiencies attendant upon any single one.

Pages

49

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