Text And Genre

Maurizio Gotti

in The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199572120
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Text And Genre

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  • Linguistics
  • Forensic Linguistics



A number of features distinguish legal texts not only from those with general language, but also from other specialized texts. The avoidance of the use of standard textual norms in favor of ‘deviant’ options is not at all arbitrary, but derives from the main pragmatic principles typical of the legal field. The most important of these principles concerns avoidance of ambiguity and precision of interpretation. This criterion also explains the high degree of conservatism typical of the law. The reverence for tradition observed in legal language also reflects its close link with the ancient practice of using special formulae for oaths or appointments, for drafting edicts and statutes, for issuing laws, conferring honors, or assigning property. This article focuses on legal text and genre. It discusses the complexity of legal texts, the use of anaphoric reference to increase textual cohesion, textual mapping, use of conjunctions, performative texts, drafting conventions, textual schematization, semantics of legal genres, and intertextuality.

Keywords: legal texts; legal genres; anaphoric reference; textual mapping; conjunctions; performative texts; drafting conventions; textual schematization; semantics; intertextuality

Article.  5804 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Forensic Linguistics

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