4 Ratio Juris 1 (1991)

handle is hein.journals/raju4 and id is 1 raw text is: 


Ratio Juris. Vol. 4 No. 1 March 1991 (1-17)
copyright  Viktor Knapp 1991








Some Problems of Legal

Language


VIKTOR KNAPP



Abstract. The author moves from the consideration of law as a set of rules serving as
a means of socially regulating human conduct. He focuses on the fact that in order to
fulfil its function, the law must be seen as a type of information. In this perspective
law is a particular language and therefore gives rise to linguistic problems, linked to
the technical character of juristic discourse. The author deals with some of the
linguistic and sociological aspects of legal language and attempts to pinpoint some
trends of interlingual development.*



I. Law and Language
There are many definitions of law, sometimes considerably different from
one another. In this paper I shall consider law as a set of valid legal rules
in a given state serving as one of the means of social regulation of human
behaviour. Consequently, the law is a set of special rules for human
behaviour. However, the law not only makes men behave in a certain way,
but also informs them necessarily how they shall or shall not behave, as
the case may be, and informs them at the same time of the consequences
of such behaviour. It follows that the law is not only a system of legal rules
(a compulsory system), but also an information system (Knapp 1978, 5ff.).
  Men are supposed to be informed of the law (cf. the generally recognized
principle of ignorantia iuris non excusat), which necessitates communication
between legislator and addressee of the legal rule. The means of this com-
munication is always, i.e., not only in the case of written law, but also in the
cases of judge-made law, customary law, etc., a certain language. It follows
that the law gives rise to linguistic problems, especially those concerning the


Abstract by M. La Torre.

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