Legal Communication. The Sociolinguistic Value of Plain Language Rules

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Published Nov 20, 2023
Joanna Kowalczyk


Legal, legislative and official texts are specific types of oral and written documents. Often, the vocabulary and unnatural grammar structures they contain makes it difficult to understand them. This particularly affects the quality of communication involving non-professional discourse participants. For this reason, a language simplification movement has emerged in many countries across the world. The article addresses the issue of plain language rules studied from the perspective of their potential to reveal the perpetuation of inequalities between authorities and citizens. It focuses on the sociolinguistic value of plain language rules, which from this perspective are not just stylistic guidelines but a form of democratizing the authoritarian and unequal interaction. The aim of the study was to show how plain language rules highlighted negative social rituals occurring within legal discourses. In the course of the analysis, hierarchizing, distancing, dominating and discriminating communicative procedures applied in the authority-citizen relationship were distinguished.

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Kowalczyk, Joanna. 2023. “Legal Communication. The Sociolinguistic Value of Plain Language Rules”. Fachsprache 45 (3-4):131-44.
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Article Details


authority-citizen relationship, institutional discourse, jargon, legal language, plain language