Illuminate Legal Terminology™


Can we translate our customary methods and techniques when research transports us into another legal culture?

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Cultures and legal systems other than our own have made valuable contributions to the history of written law.

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Translation provides a laboratory in which we can learn to elevate our capacity to select and use legal terminology.

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How alphabets have changed jurisprudence, justice, and law - Centuries after the Roman Empire disintegrated,[1] the terminology of Roman law continues to influence our world.[2]  An examination of three legal terms – “jurisprudence,” “justice,” and “law” – will help us appreciate the variety of that linguistic legacy and the writing system with which it is associated, the Latin alphabet.[3] The number of letters in […]
A choice of two plurals - December 8, 2015 (updated February 25, 2017) The plural of most English nouns is formed simply by adding an -s or -es to the end,[1] but words that were borrowed from Latin and other languages “present some of the most troublesome aspects of English plurals.”[2]  For nouns that end with -um, the appropriate form of […]
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be . . .”: Language ignores the advice of Polonius - May 7, 2013 (updated August 14, 2016) William Shakespeare has received credit for many contributions to the English language.[1]  Those contributions include the advice that Polonius gave to his son Laertes in the play Hamlet:[2] Neither a borrower nor a lender be, For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulleth edge of […]
Orthography versus cacography in our writing - April 29, 2013 (updated March 26, 2016) The concurring opinion[1] by Justice Potter Stewart[2] in Jacobellis v. Ohio[3] provided one of the most memorable quotations from the Supreme Court of the United States.  Although Justice Stewart concluded that “criminal laws [against obscenity] are constitutionally limited to hard-core pornography,” he confessed that he could not offer […]

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