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Legal Language

Legal language started developing in 597 AD in England when Latin Missionaries came to
England. They brought Latin which was a written language and was hence crucial in the
development of Law and its language. Latin is a language that is still used in Law.
The Scandinavian Raiders in the 8th century brought with them the word Law. Then came
the Norman Invasion in 1066 AD. The Normans were French and they brought the French
language to the courts. From 1066 AD to 1731 AD, that is almost 700 years, the language of
the courts was French.
Around 1500, the language of the people shifted from French to English. Geoffrey Chaucer,
the Father of English poetry started writing in English, influenced by the language of the
common people. This posed a problem as more and more people started speaking English, the
language of the courts became more and more complicated for them. Some critics call it the
Conspiracy of Gobbledygook. According to David Mellinkoff,: "What better way of
preserving a professional monopoly than by locking up your trade secrets in the safe of an
unknown tongue?" Bentham said that if we strip the Legal Language of its jargon, what is left
is a simpleton and legal documents can be made by any common man himself. But just to
plunder the men, lawyers maintain such a difficult language in the courts: one that cannot be
easily understood by the poor common man.