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Popularization and Knowledge Mediation in the Legal Field


Friday, 10 July 2015

9.00 – 9.30
Silvia Cacchiani / Chiara Preite; On informative and interactive concerns in www.justice.gouv.fr and www.justice.gov.uk: making sense of rights and the law

9.30 – 10.00
Judith Turnbull: Communicating and reconceptualizing legal advice online

10.00 – 10.30
Silvia Cavallieri: Broadcasting legal discourse: the popularization of Family Law through Youtube
Coffee break
11.00 -  11.30
Andrzej Dabrowski: Reel justice in the context of teaching Legal English as a foreign language

11.30 – 12.00
Almut Meyer: Audiences of the Law

12.00 – 12.30
Alida Maria Siletti: Structure et paratexte de deux documents sur l’UE à visée vulgarisatrice : le cas des illustrations
14.00 – 14.30
Silvia Modena: La divulgation juridique en tant que stratégie argumentative contre l'euro

14.30 – 15.00
Giuliana Diani: Transferring legal concepts to children: a cross-linguistic analysis

15.00 – 15.30
Jan Engberg / Karin Luttermann: Vermittlung rechtlichen Wissens an Kindern und Jugendlichen

Important information

> Contact for this colloqium:

 Jan Engberg, je@bcom.au.dk


Jan Engberg

Silvia Cacchiani

Karin Luttermann

Chiara Preite

Aim and scope

The field of studying communication in law may be subsumed under the name of Legal Linguistics. Traditionally, this type of study of specialized communication has had its focus upon performative legal texts like contracts, statutes and judgments (Engberg, 2013a). Studies of legal texts have thus often been focused upon communicative acts that may be termed internal to the legal institutions (cf. Busse, 2000), i.e., such communicative acts that fulfil the core purposes of the legal institutions. In many fields of specialized communication, this is also the case, but especially in the field of science and technology beside the expert-expert communication also the communication of specialized topics between experts and non-experts has been a frequent object of study, especially under the headline of popularization (Calsamiglia & van Dijk, 2003), both in traditional genres and, more recently, in new and Web 2.0 genres and modes. This has hardly been the case in the field of Legal Linguistics. The special thing about the legal field compared to other fields of specialized communication is that even the institution-internal communication has direct impact upon the lives of citizens outside the institutions, too: Statutes and contracts establish a legal framework that the citizens have to comply with, even if they do not understand these texts fully.

Most studies of the intelligibility of legal texts have focused upon this aspect and thus on the aspect of achieving institution-internal communicative purposes. However, in a modern Western society also this type of state institutions have to think of other asymmetrical communicative purposes like informing citizens about the law and influencing their behavior (Engberg & Luttermann, 2014), but also the purpose of mitigating the skeptical attitude of citizens towards the law and the legal institutions (Preite, 2013). We expect these functions and purposes to be the central ones to be investigated in the colloquium. The conveners of this colloquium all have published studies on instructional and popularized texts used in asymmetrical communication and on different aspects of textual intelligibility in the field of law or in other fields (Cacchiani, 2013; Engberg, 2013b; Engberg & Luttermann, 2014; Luttermann, 2010; Preite, 2012; Preite, 2013). And we have investigated texts in a number of different languages and lingua-cultures. With this experience, we will be able to sketch some relevant lines of development of this new branch of study in the field of legal linguistics in our own presentations and guarantee a high degree of multilingualism in the work of the colloquium.  In the colloquium, we would like to bring especially empirical studies of non-expert genres from different (European) countries together. We will be interested in studies of texts and genres from one country as well as contrastive studies, with a view to promoting interdisciplinary and intercultural dialogue and to enhancing the study of the knowledge and communicative dimensions of popularization and knowledge transfer (Ciapuscio, 2003; Calsamiglia & van Dijk, 2004) intended at effective recontextualization and intra-cultural translation of ‘shared’, uncontroversial core meanings in the legal field. More specifically, we provide reflection on the representation, construction and communication of knowledge intended for specific addressees (Kastberg, 2010; Ditlevsen, 2011) in traditional and ‘new’ non-expert genres, and different language and textual levels (from complex constructs and phraseology to patterns of textual and visual organization). Working within Legal Linguistics, we shall thus bring together diverse theoretical and methodological perspectives so as to focus on issues such as participant goals, roles and relationships, authority, dialogic/monologic orientation of the text and identity construction, (inter-)subjectivity and reconceptualization. This shall enable us to concentrate on intelligibility, diverse recontextualization strategies, and mechanisms of knowledge mediation that are specifically intented to attract and inform citizens, and thus ultimately influence their behaviour.


Jan Engberg is professor of Knowledge Communication and holds a PhD in contrastive textology and specialized communication. His research interests include especially legal communication and legal linguistics with a focus upon the construction of specialized knowledge through legal texts in mono- and multilingual settings, the communication of legal knowledge across knowledge asymmetries and the inclusion of multimodal instruments in the mediation of legal knowledge. 

Silvia Cacchiani holds a PhD in English Language and Linguistics from the U of Pisa, Italy, and has been a research fellow in English Language and Translation at the U of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy, since January 2005. Her research interests range from the lexical, semantic and discourse-pragmatic aspects of intensification to lexicology, lexicography and specialized lexicography in particular. She is currently working on simplex, complex and phrasal constructs in English, Italian and French general language and LSPs and on specialized terminology in particular, with a view to investigating transparency, (conceptual) motivation and reconceptualization of legal terms mono- and bilingual lexicographic tools and in written practical instructions intended for knowledge dissemination (e.g. PILs).

Karin Luttermann is professor at the Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt. She is a prominent scholar in the field of Legal Linguistics in a broad sense in Germany and has among many other things developed models for analyzing meanings of legal concepts as distributed among different users in a society. In this context, she has a long record of investigating intelligibility of legal texts and concepts as well as many other aspects of the communication of legal knowledge.

Chiara Preite has been associate professor of French Language and Translation at the U of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy, since November 2014. She holds an MA in Legal Translation from the U of Genoa, Italy, and a PhD in French Linguistics from the U of Brescia, Italy. Her main research interests lie in the field of legal French, lexicology, lexicography and specialized lexicography. She has published widely on these topics and is the author of the recently published monograph Langage du droit et linguistique. Etude de l’organisation textuelle énonciative et argumentative des arrêts de la Cour (et du Tribunal) de la Jusice des Communautés Européenes. She is currently carrying out work on law dictionaries from the jurilinguistic perspective and on dissemination of legal knowledge.


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