The Dialogical Language of Law

Research output: Articlepeer-review


We live in a dialogical world. The normative environment around us is many-voiced. Legal activities like drafting, negotiating, interpreting, judging, invoking, and protesting the law take place in dialogical encounters, all of which presuppose entrenched forms of social dialogue. And yet, the dominant modes of thinking about the law remain monological. How can we bring our legal conceptions into alignment with the dialogical world in which we live?
The present article follows in the footsteps of a Bakhtinian dialogical theory of language that challenges the roots of contemporary positivist conceptions of law and language underpinning large swathes of legal academia and the legal profession—including recent approaches to legal interpretation called corpus linguistics. Against this backdrop, the article aims to develop a richer and more textured dialogical jurisprudence to encompass the various aspects, activities, and genres where legal language is employed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-515
Number of pages86
JournalOsgoode Hall Law Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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