How Is Normal English Language Different From Legal English?

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English Language

When stepping foot into the legal industry, it is always better to be well-versed with Legal English language, for a smooth career ahead. Although standard and legal English bear a lot in common and share quite a few rules, there are nuances about the ways they differ from each other. This article will give you the idea of what legal English is all about and to what extent it differs normal English language.

What is Legal English?

Legal English has traditionally been preserved solely for the lawyers from English speaking countries (the U.S., the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa). This is because all these countries have shared common law traditions. Legal English is also referred to as Lawspeak or Legalese and has grown to be a global phenomenon today, due to English being the most predominant language of international business.

Legal English vs. Standard English

  • Use of archaic Latin punctuation and phrases

    Modern Legal English is often recognised by its unpronounceable words and phrases without punctuation. The typical nature of “legalese” writing may involve the use of words such as hereinafter, wheretofore and henceforth. Even though modern generation law students are mostly taught in Standard English, there is an abundance of lawyers who continue to prefer the old style of legal communication.

  • Presence of couplets, triplets and synonym strings

    The writing in legal documents contains a lot of couplets, triplets and synonym strings. This has apparently run down from the medieval period when Latin, English and French were considered the three main languages of business communication. So, in order to avoid ambiguity, drafters would try to take a word from each language to cover the bases of the final version. Some examples include:
  • Indemnify and hold harmless;
  • Null and void;
  • Sell, convey and assign;
  • Voir dier;
  • Inter allia.
  • Verbs accompanied by adverbs or prepositions

    Also known phrasal verbs, these are observed in many contracts and breach of contract scenario, written in both Legal and Standard English. The purpose of using phrasal verbs is to create an idiom that has a different meaning than when the verb is used alone. Some examples include:
  • Set aside;
  • Hold over;
  • Write off;
  • Enter into;
  • Put down;
  • Serve upon;
  • Account for;
  • Strike out;
  • Mark up.
  • The legal jargon

    A complicated way of conveying Standard English in a legal situation or document is referred to as legal jargon. Although such words or phrases are not wrong per se, they could confuse non-legal individuals. Which is why the use of simpler words and terminology are encouraged in both Standard and Legal English.

Modification of regular words is a common practice in the Legal sector. Which implies that if you are not fluent in English yet, then you will obviously have trouble understanding Legal English. If you are interested to learn the importance of English for law students  or newly-qualified lawyers, then take up the Legal industry English course today.