English translation: legal statement/wording/framing
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Linguistic demands on legal formulation. A legal text should be comprehensible and, at the same time, it should not give rise to misunderstandings. These two qualities regularly come into conflict with one another. Whether and how a text satisfies these demands rests above all on its linguistic form. While intuition can help in evaluating, with a good measure of accuracy, the quality of a text in this respect, it is difficult to link such intuitions systematically to linguistic features.
Non-experts in legal matters have often criticized that legal texts are incomprehensible and have mocked them in caricature. In many cases, it is easy enough to appreciate the grounds for this kind of criticism. On the other hand, legal experts have rightly invoked the need for unambiguous formulations which do not lend themselves to reinterpretation. Is this conflict inherent and inevitable? When exactly do inconsistencies arise? What are the factors which determine the degree of comprehensibility and clarity of a legal text? What part does the syntax play, and what role the choice of lexical items? How does information expressed through language ('wording') actually interact, even in a broad sense, with contextual knowledge (such as the often tacit background assumptions summarized in the concept of 'legal culture')? These are the issues the research group sought to shed light on. Against the background of a relatively thin layer of previous research, three subprojects have been devised: