English Legal Language
Halt | October 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

Common Lexical Features of English Legal Language

Legal translation is certainly not an easy feat. The legal matter is very delicate and extremely demanding on its own, so, any kind of translation relating to it requires a lot of resources and skills. While it might seem that the language of the law should not differ much from the common language we are used to, plus, maybe some terminology that can still be understood. Yes, it might look like that. Yet, in fact, things are a little bit more complicated than that. Let’s take a closer look at some of them.

What’s Legal English and Why is It a Different Language?

Technically, yes, legal English is still English and not some other kind of language. It’s not Chinese or Russian by any means, but the legal version of the English language has still quite a few of its specifics that need to be considered whenever working with legal translation. First, it is important to understand what legal translation is about.

Legal translation is not just about translating the words and terms from one language into another, it is about translating the law of one country in the language of that country into the frame of the law of another country in the language of that country. Sounds just a bit more complicated, right? The thing is that the basic language of law tends to be common in many countries, yet, the laws are still different in their details. So, what are the specifics of the English legal language and translation? Here are some of such characteristics.

  • The wide use of jargon. aside from the wide use of legal terminology, lots of specialists tend to use what’s called a professional jargon. That is something like terminology, in fact, yet, a little bit different at the same time. Unlike terminology, legal jargon is not formal and, hence, might not be used by everybody. However, it is still acceptable for usage in the formal legal documents, so it might be present there. What is similar between the legal terminology and jargon is that both largely came from French and Latin, so they are compatible, and one can be used instead of another in certain cases. Such words can include a waiver, promissory estoppel, restrictive covenant, etc.
  • Lack of punctuation. If you might stumble upon a legal document originally written in English, you might notice that it does not contain any punctuation. That is not the legal professionals being uneducated, but merely a tradition. While this might seem mysterious, it’s still not like the matter of who invented the English alphabet. In the English legal system, drafting was very prominent throughout history, so the punctuation marks would often be omitted in order to save time and note as much as possible. Although that inevitably creates some serious issues, it’s still present in the English-language legal system.
  • The necessity of certification. The legal matter is very delicate and, thus, requires a confirmed professional approach. And for the legal professionals, the best way to confirm their education and proficiency is through the certifications. That also relates to the legal translators. A language specialist or a company cannot perform legal translations officially without a certificate or a diploma. The translations done without such documents will not be considered at all. So, when choosing a translation company to work on your legal documents, make sure it is certified. You can always try this certified translation service out to see what it has to offer. You’ll see that professionalism is confirmed formally by such companies.
  • Frequent use of phrasal verbs. Being another tradition, phrasal verbs are very common in legal English. Although certain things can definitely be said in a more contracted form, English-speaking legal professionals will still prefer to use phrases instead of simple verbs to address certain issues. This makes legal English sound somewhat formal and royal.

It’s a Legal Matter

English Legal Language

While legal English is basically just English, it has its own specifics that may get a person unfamiliar with the English legal system confused. It might sound as if you get back to the past and watch some Medieval noblemen speaking to each other in a very formal fashion. Quite a similar thing can be related to written legal English. Yet, if you have such specifics considered, you’ll have no big trouble with legal English documents. Otherwise, you can always use a little help from the legal translation specialist. He or she will certainly know what to do.


Mark Blackwood is an experienced and successful researcher and author. Every day Mark does his little research about the new thing he finds and often produces results that are truly fascinating even for him! Don’t miss a chance to learn a new thing every day and keep in touch with this ever-changing world.