The Features of Legal Language in British Legislation: a Diachronic Perspective

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Published Nov 4, 2022
Eva Dvořáková

Abstract

The aim of this paper was to explore diachronically the features of legal language in British legislation over 200 years to find out whether the features identified by Crystal and Davy in their seminal work are still present in the current British legislation and whether any changes are due to the natural development of the language or to plain language efforts. Further, the paper explores lexical diversity and readability. For these purposes, five corpora of British legislation were compiled from 1820, 1870, 1920, 1970, and 2020. The results show that the current language of British legislation is very different from the legal language described by Crystal and Davy fifty years ago, the plainer texts tend to be lexically less diverse, and the readability measures provide rather inconclusive results.

How to Cite

Dvořáková, Eva. 2022. “The Features of Legal Language in British Legislation: A Diachronic Perspective”. Fachsprache 44 (3-4):112-29. https://doi.org/10.24989/fs.v44i3-4.2022.
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Keywords

legal language, archaisms, plain language, readability, lexical diversity, British legislation

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