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THE RESURGENCE OF

ENGLISH

The Resurgence of English led to the


demise of Latin and Law French
THREE LANGUAGES

 The legal profession’s use of three different


languages makes the Middle Ages an
interesting period linguistically, but it did not
always promote the fair and efficient
administration of justice.
EVENTS THAT LED TO THE
RESURGENCE OF ENGLISH
 1362- Parliament tried to legislate the greater
use of English in pleading, to little avail.
Complaints about the situation continued to
mount.
 1549- Thomas Cranmer- 1st Protestant of
Archbishop of Canterbury, recounted that “ I
have heard suitors murmur at the bar because
their attornies pleaded their cause in the French
tongue which they understood not”.
 But the “hiddenness” of the law – caused in
large part by use of a foreign language – forced
people of the time to “ have recourse to the
shrine of the lawyer.”
RESTORATION OF ENGLISH
 Parliament finally took action during the
Commonwealth, when the Puritans assumed
power and beheaded the king.
 The Puritans seem to have had a zest not just
for plain living, but for plain language as well.
 They toyed with the idea of abolishing the
common law, including its courts and
practitioners, an replacing it with a pocket-
sized code in ordinary English.
 1650- Parliament passed a law that required all
case reports and books of law to be “in the English
Tongue only”.
 It is directed that earlier reports of judicial
decisions and other law books be translated into
English
 1660- After the monarchy had been restored, the
“pretended act” requiring English was repealed
and the old state of affairs returned: many of the
case reports were again in Law French , and
courts records in Latin
 Even the courts, long bastions of French and
Latin, had largely switched to English
 1704- law reports of all the courts were in
English
 1731- Parliament permanently ended the use of
Latin and French in legal proceedings
 During the rest of the 19th century, Latin and
Law French continued their slow decline
CONTINUANCE OF ORIGINAL TERMS

Unfortunately, it turned out to be


difficult to translate many Law French and
Latin terms into English. Two years later,
another statute provided that the traditional
names of writs and technical words could
continue to be in the original language
THE INCREASING IMPORTANCE OF
WRITING AND PRINTING
 Throughout the history of English law, legal
language has been spoken
 The impact of writing was compounded by the
invention of printing, which was introduced to
England in the 1470s
HISTORY OF WRITTEN LEGAL
PROCEEDINGS
 From 5th century- the Norman conquest-
transfers of land and wills were customarily
made orally, usually with witnesses present,
and often accompanied by a symbolic handing
over a clod of dirt
 Clergyman began to make written records of
property aids to remembering
 W ritten records- evidentiary of the oral
ceremony rather than operative or dispositive
legal documents in the modern sense
 Reporting judicial proceedings
 Mid -15th century – printed abridgements
 Beginning of 1600- publication of law books
grew up rapidly
 By 1800- printed literature on English law
included over fifteen hundred distinct titles
WHY WRITTEN LAW ?
 Once a law is fixed in written form, and especially
if it is published, it is published, it is endowed with
a permanence that it would not have – or would
have to a far less extent – if it were oral
 Modern society could not exist without complex
written records
 Written law provides important safeguards against
arbitrary exercises of power by the government
 Writing has encouraged the conservative linguistic
practices of the legal profession and its fixation on
words