Law French


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Law French

n
(Law) a set of Anglo-Norman terms used in English laws and law books
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
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The French used by lawyers and judges became known as Law French. It was a distinct language incomprehensible to English clients and probably to speakers of ordinary French as well.
Patricia Clare Ingham looks at Caxton's Statutes of the English Realm, then John Rastell's response to the Statutes, and posits that Caxton influenced Henry VII to think in terms of "Englishness"; her argument, however, is weakened by the omission of discussion of Pynson's continued publication and importation into England of books composed in Law French. Finally, Tim William Machan discusses the ways in which "early modern Middle English" was popularized by printers through their insistence on the figure of the author, writing as an ethical activity, and their later shift of emphasis from authors to editors.
Beginning with the languages of law in medieval England--English, "law French," and Latin--the book illuminates the origins of many of the terms of art still in use in common law jurisdictions today.
At present Welsh is classified as a foreign language by the Commons and cannot be used in its proceedings - though Latin and Law French can.
It is easy to forget that it has been fifty years since Jarrell's essay "The Age of Criticism" (1952), in which he worries that "there is an atmosphere or environment, at some of the higher levels of our literary culture, in which many people find it almost impossible not to write criticism and almost impossible to write anything else," and bemoans that fact that many contemporary critics "have a language and style as institutionalized as those of sociologists," indeed a "strange sort of Law French which the critic can now set up like a Chinese wall between himself and the lay (i.e., boreable) reader."