Tradition and Change in Legal English

Verbal Constructions in Prescriptive Texts

by Christopher Williams (Author)
Monographs 224 Pages
Series: Linguistic Insights, Volume 20


In this volume the author examines verbal constructions in prescriptive legal texts written in English. Modal auxiliaries such as shall, may and must are analysed, as well as indicative tenses such as the present simple, and also non-finite constructions such as the -ing form and -ed participles. Results are based on specially compiled corpora of prescriptive texts coming from a wide range of English-speaking countries and also international organizations such as the European Union and the UN. The author also analyses the nature, extent and impact of the calls for change in legal language coming from the Plain Language Movement. Although legal language tends to be depicted as being highly conservative and unchanging, the author shows that in certain parts of the English-speaking world a minor revolution would appear to be taking place, while in other parts there is greater resistance to change.


Publication date
2005 (April)
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2005. 2007. 216 pp., num. tables

Biographical notes

Christopher Williams (Author)

The Author: Christopher Williams teaches English at the Faculty of Law at Foggia University in southern Italy. He also teaches English at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Bari. His main research interests are in the field of tense and aspect and also in legal English. He has many years of experience as a translator of labour law texts, mainly from Italian into English. He is co-editor of the journal ESP Across Cultures.


Title: Tradition and Change in Legal English