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32 Dhaka Univ. L.J. 119 (2021)
The Law of Language and the Language of the Law: A Socio-Legal Appraisal of Colonial Legal Language in Bangladesh

handle is hein.journals/dkauvylw32 and id is 413 raw text is: 

© Dhaka University Law Journal, 2021, 32(2), 119-134
doi: https://doi.org/10.3329/dulj.v32i2.57961

The Law of Language and the Language of the Law: A Socio-
    legal  Appraisal of Colonial Legal Language in Bangladesh

                              Arpeeta  Shams  Mizan*

1. Introduction

Generally, the language of the law, i.e. how the law is written, results from historical
events and the nature of the legal system of any country.'This article deals with the
legal language,  and  critically probes into the colonial  linguistic style of legal
language  in Bangladesh  which has considerable impact  on not only the legislations,
but also their application, their social implications, and the overall public knowledge
of the  law. As  a result, we the people  of Bangladesh   get laws  that we  do not
understand  easily upon reading. This pushes us away  from knowing  or even talking
about laws  except superficially. In this context, I will explore what specific factors
led to this poor condition of the legal language so that Bangladesh can move towards
making  laws  'for the people'. The term 'legal language' connotes the language used
for legal writing. There are different kinds (genres) of legal writing: for example, (a)
academic  legal writing as  in law journals, (b) juridical legal writing as in court
judgments,  and (c) legislative legal writing as in, laws, regulations, contracts, and
treaties. 2 In this paper, I use the word legal language very consciously: for purposes
of this article, legal language (7rt4 -t-M) is the language used for lawmaking  and
other legal procedures. It does not mean lawful or permissible language (Zr4 ZM) and
it is not equivalent to language of the law (m  d -z-T) which more  often refers to a
particular piece of law or legislation.

1.1 Legal Language:   What Is It?

The  use of language is crucial to any legal system because if the law is written in a
language  that is incomprehensible  or obscure  and  inaccessible to the people for
whom   it is made, the law becomes detached from the people. People tend to not know
the law, and this ignorance of law breeds an unconscious, indifferent body of citizens.

  Assistant Professor, Department of Law, University of Dhaka, and doctoral researcher, University of
  Bristol Law School (UK).
              C reative Commons lon Commercial CC BY-NC: This article is distributed under the
  i?.Iwr-w~   terms of  the Creative Commons   Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0 License
  (htps://crearivecomrmons.org/iicenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and
  distribution of'the work withou1 Jirther permission provided the original work is properly cited.
  Maja Stanojevid, 'Legal English - Changing Perspective' (2017) 9 (1) Facta Universitatis 67.
2 See, Vijay K.Bhatia, Analyzing Genre: Language in Professional Settings (Routledge 1993) 101.

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