English Language Day is a United Nations (UN) observance we’ve been celebrating on April 23rd since 2010.
The English Language is one of the UN working languages and six official languages. English is so widely spoken that we often refer to it as a “world language”, or the lingua franca of the modern era. The day aims to entertain and inform people about the history, culture and achievements associated with the language. Also, it aims to increase awareness and respect for the culture.
The History of the English Language
The English Language is important and influential with ‘approximately 1.5 billion of the world’s inhabitants speaking English’. It’s flexible and resilient and has the ability to adopt and absorb vocabulary from other cultures. ‘It’s survived incursions, invading armies and potential extinction on multiple occasions and managed the changing cultural zeitgeist (spirit of the times.)’
‘The English Language, West Germanic Language of the Indo-European language family, is closely related to Frisian, German and Dutch. It is the dominant language of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and various nations in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. It’s also an official language of India, the Philippines, Singapore and many countries in sub-Saharan Africa including South Africa.’
We can recognise the changes to the English Language throughout many significant time periods and events. From Old English to Middle English, Early Modern English and Late Modern English. Additionally, the main influences on its development include the Neolithic (late Stone Age), the Vikings (Anglo-Saxon), the Normans and the French, the English Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution and Colonialism.
English Language and Law
Words are the essential tools of the law. It has been said that you will be learning a new language when you study law, but it’s actually a bit more complicated.
In the study of law, language has great importance; cases turn on the meaning that judges ascribe to words, and lawyers must use the right words to effectuate the wishes of their clients.
What Is Legal English?
It is one of the many forms of English that is used in law. In other words, it is a technical language specifically originated as a language for legal professionals such as judges, lawyers, legal assistants and attorneys. Legal English is not a native language for these professionals – they are required to learn this language from a technical context in order to perform well in the field of law.
Legal English has been referred to as a “sublanguage” as legal English differs from ordinary English. A specialised use of certain terms and linguistic patterns governs the teaching of legal language. The study of legal language is a kind of second language, a specialised use of vocabulary, phrases, and syntax that helps us to communicate more easily with each other”.
Why Is It So Important?
Learning legal terms is important for your career if you are studying law regardless of the country. The main reason behind this is the rise in globalization. Since a lot of people study from one country and apply their learned skills by moving to another country, it is important that you should be able to communicate well while interacting with others.
When you enter the market as a qualified lawyer, you will come across various clients in the country you have shifted to. Similarly, you will have to use all the legal terminologies that other lawyers use in that region. For instance, if you have studied law from Brazil and you want to practice in the US, you will most likely interact with US attorneys. In order to talk to them regarding legal matters, you must adapt their legal language, i.e. English used in law that is particular to their region.
Legal English has particular relevance when applied to legal writing and the drafting of written material, including:
- legal documents: contracts, licences, etc.
- court pleadings: summonses, briefs, judgments, etc.
- laws: Acts of Parliament and subordinate legislation, case reports
- legal correspondence
Legal English has traditionally been the preserve of lawyers from English-speaking countries (especially the U.S., the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, and South Africa) which have shared common law traditions. However, due to the spread of Legal English as the predominant language of international business, as well as its role as a legal language within the European Union, Legal English is now a global language.