A Bird’s Eye View of ‘Language and Law’

Vincent M. Chanda


The importance of language to mankind is such that not only all national constitutions have one or more provisions on language but so do all regional and international organizations in their conventions, treaties or similar instruments. The paper explores this fact, using empirical evidence. The relationship between language and law is not only in terms of which language is the official language, or which languages are official languages, but also in terms of how legal texts and lawyers use languages and also what are the linguistic characteristics of legal texts and statements, the study of which is referred to in the paper as ‘legal linguistics’. The paper points out that “legal language is not only used in written legal texts but also in statements made by lawyers as well as in conventions, treaties and similar instruments of regional and international organizations”. The last topic of the paper is linguistic rights. Linguistic rights are human rights but linguistic rights, like any human right, are only binding if they are enshrined in a national constitution or in a convention, treaty or similar instrument of a regional or international organization.


: Human right, natural right, legal right, legal language, legal linguistics, national constitution, official language, regional organization, international organization, United Nations.

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