This volume explores new interfaces between linguistics and jurisprudence.
Its theoretical and methodological importance lies in showing that many
questions asked within the field of language and law receive satisfactory
answers from formal linguistics.
The book starts with a paper by the two editors in which they explain why
the volume - as a whole and with its individual papers - is an innovation
in the field of language and law. In addition, an overview about the most
important research projects on language and law is given. The first chapter
of the book is on understanding the law. Jurists and laypersons always ask
for the precise meaning of a certain piece of the law. In linguistics, the
discipline investigating 'meaning' is semantics; thus, it is to be expected
that semantics can contribute to a correct understanding of the law.
Chapter 1 also investigates the alleged incomprehensibility of legal
language with the help of psycholinguistics. Chapter 2 is on identifying
the criminal. To find the author of a blackmailer's letter, text / corpus
linguistics is instrumental. If the blackmailer uses the telephone instead
of the letter, speaker identification and phonetics are necessary. The BKA
stores all blackmailing letters in a database, but databases are only one
possibility of organizing legal systems; another possibility is the
application of tools from computational linguistics and artificial
intelligence. These tools can be useful to handle terminology, to retrieve
information, or to model legal theorizing in a formal system. Chapter 3
demonstrates a variety of examples of organizing legal systems. The topic
of chapter 4 is multilingualism and the law. The European legislation is a
product of legal and linguistic diversity, as the member states do not only
differ in languages but also in their legal systems. One paper shows how
Switzerland handles its multilingualism in legal drafting. The input of
translation studies is of course vital in this field of research. An index
for both subjects and persons complements the volume.