LEGAL LANGUAGE: EVOLUTION, IMPORTANCE AND CRITICAL VALUE INTRODUCTION
LANGUAGE Language is the medium of transmission of words and the exchange of ideas from one another. As the human brain evolved with time, multiple thoughts started to emerge. To communicate those ideas among each other the words were developed. But as far as a language is concerned not just words mean it rather the signs, gestures, writings are also included in a language, because they also help to express thoughts. When these words, signs, gestures are arranged in a meaningful sense then language emerged. As various studies have shown that the early men on the planet earth when started to socialize with each other and no use of words was into the practice, pictures were used to communicate. Slowly and gradually these pictures were converted into smaller and easier format, these gave rise to the formation of words. Since language acts as the transporter of thoughts and expressions from one brain to another thus, it is known as the ‘vehicle of thoughts’. As quoted by one of the most famous revolutionaries of the contemporary world Plato, ‘HUMAN LANGUAGE IS THE RESULT OF DEVINE GIFT’. The basic interpretation of the quote stated means that a language supports humans to understand the thought process of other human beings which will help in the formation of a society. Thus, communications helped early men to form societies and to be known as the ‘social animal’.
MEANING Language is the expression of thoughts. Understanding the meaning of language is the most difficult and confusing part of language. Since, thoughts of every individual are different, meanings of a particular aspect can also differ. Thus, a language does not have any meaning in itself. Interpretation of a particular aspect depends on the receiver. Language or the vehicle of thoughts is extremely broad so can be interpreted in numerous ways. Thus, as far as language is concerned meaning cannot be used in a fixed sense, it has to be kept free to the readers or receivers to interpret it in their own manner. The meaning of any language includes two types of meanings first, the meaning of the words included and then the meaning of the sentence or the phrase that comprise these words. Meaning is generally of two types:- a) Structural meaning – it is simply understanding the meaning of a sentence focusing upon the orientation of the or the structure of a sentence. If there are two sentences presented with the same set of words organized differently, they would present completely different meaning. For example, oranges are kept on apples and apples are kept on oranges . These two sentences have the same set of words but they mean differently.
b) Grammatical meaning – meaning there by, two sentences having the same set of words and having a slight difference would completely change the meaning of the whole sentence. For example, a blue colored briefcase is kept on the cupboard and a blue colored suitcase is kept in the cupboard. Simply changing the preposition in a sentence has changed the whole context of the statement.
WHAT IS LEGAL LANGUAGE Legal language is the professional language used by the lawyers and other professionals belonging to the field of law. The power of legal language lies in the use of words. This art involves the use of limited words with exact meaning. Law as a profession is based on words in any form written or spoken. A lawyer must learn the art of presenting exactly what he wants to say in extremely limited words. Legal language is not just the language of people related to the field of law but the laymen also use legal terms in contracts, agreements, journals etc. in the legal research papers legal language is used. It is accessible to every individual but still people are not so acquainted with the language as there is lack of legal education, specifically in India.
Legal language is of different types 1. Academic legal writing in law journals 2. Judicial writings in court judgements 3. Legislative legal writing in malking laws, rules and regulations, contracts etc.
RELATION BETWEEN LAW AND LANGUAGE Laws are the set of rules which are imposed on people of a country and people are bound to follow these laws. As expressed earlier, language is a composition of words. Law is a game of words. Lawyers in particular have to be very careful while using words. Each word being used, has to be in the context in which it is being used. Even when there is use of synonyms, lawyers have to be very vigilant about the context of the sentence. If there is any minor error the whole argument can be reversed. This way legal language is very different from language. To explain it further, the nature of laws is very vast. It can be classified into two broad categories, namely criminal laws and civil laws. The concept of both the laws is completely different but once we begin reading theses, they look very similar. Generally, the words or the terms used in both the scenarios, they are the same but the context becomes different while using them. In criminal law there is always crime present in it. Crime is an act committed against the state where as civil wrong is an act committed against an individual. Under criminal law, offender has to go through punishments but in civil cases the accused generally has to pay compensation for the wrong committed depending upon the degree of crime. For instance, the term ‘trespass’ can be considered under the ambit of the criminal law and the civil law. Under criminal law offender has to suffer through the punishment up to three months or fine up to five hundred rupees or both and in civil law the accused is liable to pay the compensation for the wrong committed by him depending upon the seriousness of wrong done. Legal language is very different from the language we use to communicate in general. However, there are differences in spoken and written language. For lawyers written language is of highest importance. Each word, phrase or sentence is framed in such a manner that is easy for the readers to understand the exact meaning of the same. For lawyers or law professionals have to express most of the things in written form. Apart from this, lawyers research a lot and write research papers. The language and the arrangement of words of these research papers is done to make the most of the meaning out of the matter written keeping in mind the readers who do not belong to the field of law.
EVOLUTION OF LEGAL LANGUAGE Laws are made for the betterment of society so that its development is not hindered. Thus, with the development of societies the laws were developed. Laws are as old as the civilizations are. Earlier when societies were divided among clans, each clan had its own head who would make certain rules and regulations, pledges and symbols to govern people of that particular clan. Similarly, in the present times the laws are made for the people in a particular country and are bound to follow. These rules and regulations, pledges and symbols indicate changes, resistance, adaptation, promotion of certain aspects that people and society need to grow. Laws does not only add the necessities of society but are also used to cut down the archaic laws that hinder the growth of the governing machinery of a country. As the society advances the laws are also meant to be framed accordingly, keeping in mind both the emotional and logical aspects behind the formation of laws. India is a heavily diverse country .Thus, the history of India is vast and diverse. Since beginning Indians are highly concerned and protective towards their culture and tradition. To protect the sentiments of people the law-makers have to keep in mind every aspect of the tradition of people. In the earlier times laws of tribes and clans were made to protect their own culture and if anybody within the clan or outsider intended to harm their culture or tradition would suffer from severe punishments. Similarly, in the present times if anybody whether citizen or any resident in India violates the laws formulated by the legislature will be liable toto go through the punishments depending on the nature and the degree of crime. India got its current legal system with the coming of British in the late nineteenth century. British regime brought many changes to the legal structure in India that we used to follow during the Mughal era. The Mughal used to govern the people in that period time based on the laws of Islam. Laws of a land should be according to the people residing in the territories of a country. During Mughal era the governing system was based on Islam which was not according to the culture and tradition of Hindus and thus the British changed the system and introduced such laws that were secular in nature. Along with the laws, high courts were also established which exist in present times as well. In India these laws are still being followed because they are still relevant to govern such a diverse and vast country like India. It does not mean that India has borrowed everything from these different countries, the laws are framed in such manner that benefit the people of India. Certain amendments have been made at different times in order to make them suitable for Indians.
IMPORTANCE OF LEGAL LANGUAGE For lawyers it is really important to understand the context of the word used in the draft. Only then he can draw a proper conclusion out of it to give feedback for the same. For lawyers, mere knowledge of law is not important rather more imperative is to be able to explain the crux of the law. Knowledge must be explained in the less number of words. One must know for certain that no royal road leads to the shrine where the treasure of persuasion lies . To master any language, one has to get familiar with the language. Legal language is very different from other professional languages. Legal terminology include massive use of Latin words and phrases. These are called legal maxims. Legal professionals use these terms very often in research papers, court proceedings and judgements etc. Since the concept of Rule of Law in India is taken from the British Constitution we follow the same legal tradition. Phrases such as ‘ignorantia juris non excusat’ meaning ignorance of law is no excuse or ‘actus non facit reum nisi men sit rea’ which means that an accused is not guilty of any offence unless he has evil intention for committing such crime. The use of words must be done in a way that is easy for the readers to understand the correct meaning for the same. Only in this way knowledge can be imparted from writers to the readers of the context. The difference in legal language and the everyday language of majorly of the semantic level. Of all the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken words, there are three kinds i. The first depends upon the personal character of the speaker. ii. The second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind. iii. And the third on the proof or the apparent proof provided by the words of the speech itself. It can be achieved by a. Reasoning logically b. Understanding the human character and goodness in their various forms, and c. Understanding the liberty of mind. The object of every sincere speech after all, is not to arouse the passion or flatter the senses, but to convince the hearers of the truth . Every professional language has its own beauty. People belonging to a particular language can understand the language at ease. As mentioned earlier, law is a game of word one must master the art of writing legal documents who belongs to the field. Legal language is highly professional, it does not include terms that have emotional touch to them. As the drafts made by lawyers after research are presented in the courts while proceedings, the use of correct terminology is essential for an advocate. To build up legal relationship internationally as well one has a law professional has to be well versed with the legal language that is universally accepted over different territories while interacting with the prospective clients abroad.
CRITICAL VALUE OF LEGAL LANGUAGE The history of legal language is very wide-ranging still a huge population is not familiar with the language. Legal language is important to know the rights and duties conferred upon the citizens of a country. The biggest problem currently is of lack of knowledge about protections that the Constitutions provide to the citizens . For example, many people do not know the they are protected by certain fundamental rights given by the Constitution that defends their body, occupation, property, movement, settlement etc. In short, legal education is still out of reach to certain societies specifically in India. To communicate with a certain set of people who are well-acquaint with the legal language, it is very important to have good understanding of legal education. Law is a field of interactions, a lawyer has to be very fluent with the legal language to present his arguments. If there will be ambiguity in the use of words or any mistake in words is there, it might change the complete meaning of it. Legal language is an art to present the exact meaning in exact sense to what a lawyer or an advocate desires to say. But in the present times the essence of legal language is not the way it has to be presented. Even, people belonging to the profession of law are drifting apart from the true meaning of legal language. The conciseness and aptness of the legal language has been converted to verbosity of legal language. Now a days more rhetoric language can be seen in recent times. Legal language is under the influence of English rather than expressing the exact meaning lawyers are using more words than required to flaunt their level of English. All these aspects of the present times affect the legal system. People are more concerned about their personal development than the development of the legal system as a whole in India. Now a days the numbers of new bees in law schools or the budding lawyers are increasing and moving toward the Bar Council turning the legal profess into the profession of commerce and trade. There is a vital distinction between profession and business. A profession must primarily serve some public purpose, there must be some missionary zeal in those who enter it. In practicing a profession, money may be made and even fortunes accumulated, but this must be purely accidental. In business on the other hand, on the other hand, the sole motive is and can be the profit motive.
CONCLUSION Legal language is a language of limited words with the exact meaning used by the lawyers and other professionals belonging to the field of law. The language which exists since the existence of the civilizations is still growing as a professional language of law with its own beauty. Law is a field which is not stagnant, it has developments as and when the society develops and so is the legal language. Legal language makes the readers and the writers wise as it helps in developing the ability to express the desired meaning in the limited words. The major concern towards the legal language is to protect its true essence. The language of concise words is converting into the language of verbosity. This step towards preserving the true meaning of the legal language will be more beneficial if the knowledge of legal education reaches to the highest number of people. This would help people understand the legal system of India and also the rights conferred to them by the Constitution of India.