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Macr; Legalese

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Legalese is usually defined as “the language of lawyers that they might use in drafting legal documents butwould not use in ordinary communications”. Linguists identify legalese as a distinctive dialect because it is conservative and static, and is not evolving in step with modern English.

1. Legal language suffers from the use of formal words which most people understand but which are very old-fashioned (archaic).


legal language plain language Russian equivalent
hereinafter from now on; below in this document в дальнейшем, ниже
Herein in this thing в этом, здесь, при сем прилагаю
Hereby by this document, by these words сим, настоящим
hereof of, concerning this сего, настоящего (документа и т.п.)
Thereof of that, of it из этого, из того, из них
Therein in that там, в этом, в том
whereof of what, of which из которого, о ком, о чем
Wherein in what, in which где, в котором, в чем


2. Legalese uses the auxiliary (helping) verb shall in its archaic meaning. In formal legal style shall is often used to express explicit obligation - it can be used as a synonym for must, have to, be able to.

EXERCISE 12. Read the following sentences paying attention to the formal legal words used in them. Translate the sentences into Russian.

1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. (The US Constitution, Art. I)

2. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed… (Amendment VI)

3. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. (Amendment XIV)

4. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited. (Amendment XVIII. Ratified January 16, 1919)

5. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed. (Amendment XXI. Ratified December 5, 1933)


EXERCISE 13.Read the 5-th constitutional amendment, paying attention to the word shalland determine the meaning of shall in this text.



No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


EXERCISE 14. Find the English equivalents for the Russian legal terms given below in the 5-th constitutional amendment.

- караемое смертью преступление

- иным образом позорящее преступление

- обвинительный акт Большого жюри

- опасное для общества положение

- дважды подвергаться угрозе лишения жизни или нарушению телесной неприкосновенности

- принуждаться

- свидетельствовать против самого себя

- быть лишенным жизни

- надлежащая правовая процедура

- справедливое возмещение


EXERCISE 15. Translate the 5-th constitutional amendment into Russian. Consult the dictionary of law.


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