Plain legal Spanish

Endeavours towards a plain legal language: The case of Spanish in context

By Anna Alsina Naudi

Implementing plain legal language is a project for those who are trying to build trust in legal systems all over the world. This paper aims at comparing successful policies in certain countries and describing the efforts made towards achieving a Spanish plain legal discourse. The paper lays out the definition of plain language, reviews the reluctance of professionals to make changes in legal language and specifies which legal documents are under discussion. The long-standing plain English movement and the positive Swedish example are considered, in combination with the ongoing developments of the German and French legal languages. It then analyses the legislative process within the European Union and uncovers the need for more collaboration between jurists and linguists. Adding to these case studies, this paper interrogates the contemporary state of legal Spanish. Despite institutional efforts in various countries, which are detailed in the last section, legal Spanish remains obscure and holds back the democratization of justice. Taking into account that Spanish is the second-most widely spoken language in the world and the wide use of the Internet for legal matters, the need to clarify legalese is more pressing than ever. The demand for trust in justice advances incessantly, but the implementation of a transparent legal discourse seems to be at a standstill.

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