Conveying meaning in legal language: Why the language of legislation needs to be more explicit than ordinary language

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskriftPeer review


In current debate, a considerable amount of attention is given to the question of whether theories of verbal communication that apply to ordinary communicative exchanges - inparticular Grice’s conversational model - likewise apply to legal contexts. In Grice’s analysis, implicit contents are conveyed by speakers, as well as correctly interpreted by hearers, because ordinary conversations are assumed to be governed by a Principle of Cooperation. With regard to the context of legislation, that is, the context where communication by legislative acts takes place, it has been argued that Grice’s theoretical approach applies only partially, because this context is not a cooperative, but rather a strategic one. The aim of this study is to contribute to the debate discussing the peculiarity of the communicative context of legislation. It will be argued that the legislator’s ability to convey conversational implicatures must be called into question. In particular, the indeterminacy of the legislative context excludes that the legislator be able to convey particularized conversational implicatures, while the legislator may convey generalized conversational implicatures. Moreover, it will be shown how the peculiarity of the context of legislation leads to the “explicitation” of contents that typically are implicitly conveyed in ordinary contexts.
Sidor (från-till)43-53
Antal sidor11
TidskriftJournal of Pragmatics
StatusPublished - 2022

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Jämförande språkvetenskap och lingvistik
  • Språkstudier


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