Argumentation 2021. International Conference on Alternative Methods of Argumentation in Law



This paper deals with the metaphor ‘law is language’ coined by James Boyd White and how it can be useful to understand the concept of legal language, connections between law and language and how the term language is used in the legal realm. In the beginning, the article aims to give an overview of possible approaches to legal language and continues with further analysis of one of them (the above-mentioned White’s proposition). By applying a semiotic approach to this concept, namely Saussure’s theory of distinguishing between langue (language) and parole (speaking), the paper helps to understand that language (and even legal language) can be understood in two different forms. It can be either considered an abstract system of signs, or it can be comprehended as individual speech acts – langue and parole, respectively. White’s metaphor is usually used in the meaning of texts, way of reading, writing and speaking. However, such conception corresponds to language in the sense of parole. These considerations lead at the end of the article towards the communicative theory of law and its merits to jurisprudence. According to a given doctrine, in some instances it can be more accurate to consider law as communication rather than language (and vice versa). Nevertheless, in either case, it is essential to bear in mind the distinction between both of the concepts.

Klíčová slova

Legal Language; James Boyd White; Law is Language; Communication; Semiotics.


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