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Tradition and Change in Legal English

Verbal Constructions in Prescriptive Texts

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Christopher Williams

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.
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Edited by Maurizio Gotti and Christopher John Williams

The chapters constituting this volume focus on legal language seen from cross-cultural perspectives, a topic which brings together two areas of research that have burgeoned in recent years, i.e. legal linguistics and intercultural studies, reflecting the rapidly changing, multifaceted world in which legal institutions and cultural/national identities interact. Within the broad thematic leitmotif of this volume, it has been possible to identify two major strands: legal discourse across languages on the one hand, and legal discourse across cultures on the other. Of course, labels of this kind are adopted partly as a matter of convenience, and it could be argued that any paper dealing with legal discourse across languages inevitably has to do with legal discourse across cultures. But a closer inspection of the papers comprising each of these two strands reveals that there is a coherent logic behind the choice of labels. All seven chapters in the first section are concerned with legal topics where more than one language is at stake, whereas all seven chapters in the second section are concerned with legal topics where cultural differences are brought to the fore.
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Edited by George McKay, Christopher Williams, Michael Goddard and Neil Foxlee

The collapse of communism has opened up Russia and East-Central Europe to outside influences and enabled new lifestyle choices and forms of religious expression. Based on extensive ethnographic research, this collection uses a variety of theoretical perspectives and methodologies to examine some of the many subcultures and new religious movements that have emerged as part of this process, from members of utopian eco-communities, native-language hip-hoppers and nationalistic skinheads to various forms of Indian-inspired spirituality, neo-paganism and theosophy. Whether they reflect a growing sense of national or ethnic identity, the influence of globalization or a combination of the two, such groups highlight the challenge of creating a free, open and tolerant society in both Russia and new or prospective EU member states. The book seeks to contribute to academic and policy debates in this area by increasing understanding of the groups in question.
The studies in this collection present selected findings from the three-year EU-funded project ‘Society and Lifestyles: Towards Enhancing Social Harmonization through Knowledge of Subcultural Communities’ (2006-2008), which included partners from a wide range of post-communist countries in Eastern Europe and from the UK.