Legal English is one of the research fields which cannot be ignored under the trend of economic globalization. With the increasing demand for international law professionals, the study and research on legal English by Chinese scholars are in full swing during these years. Previous studies have shown that the frequency of synonyms is an important character of legal English, and the accurate selection of synonyms has been a gap in the study of scholars for a long time. When faced with the difficulty of word choice, researchers tend to choose the words they are familiar with intuitively, thus affecting the accuracy of ideographic expression to a certain extent. It is urgent to pay attention to the research on the use of synonyms in legal English.
This paper discusses the use of synonyms in the text statistically and summarizes the characteristics of synonyms based on United Nations Security Council Resolution (2018). So as to provide reference for legal English learners. There are 139,573 words totally in the documents. According to incomplete statistics, 23 synonyms were used for every 10,000 words in the document on average. It is found that synonyms parallel, rigorous words choice and frequency of synonyms are the three main Characteristics of legal English. The use of synonyms is to make legal language more ambiguous, accurate and authoritative.
Key Words: legal English, synonym, word choice
1 Introduction 1
1.1 Research background 1
1.2 Research methodology 3
1.3 Aim of study 3
2 Literature review 5
3 Characteristics of synonyms in legal English 7
3.1 Synonyms parallel 7
3.2 Rigorous words choice 9
3.3 Synonyms frequency 10
4 Functions of synonyms in legal English 13
4.1 Ambiguity 13
4.2 Accuracy 13
4.3 Authority 15
5 Conclusion 17
Research on the Characteristics of Synonyms in Legal English：the Case Study of United Nations Security Council Resolution (2018)
According to professor William McKay(Mckay, 2005), legal English is a practical interdisciplinary subject combining legal science and English linguistics which is an essential branch of ESP (English for Specific Purpose) with its unique form of formation. David, a professor at the university of California puts forward the expression “legal English”. Legal English is an instrumental language which mainly refers to English that used by native speakers of the common law countries. International organizations’ law researchers, judges and lawyers and other legal workers in the law are the main users of legal English (李剑波, 2003).
Definitions of synonym vary from one to another and still developing. Here are two authoritative definitions. According to Jackson Howord (Jackson, H,1988), synonyms are words which could be used interchangeably in all sentence context. Arppe acclaimed that a synonym is a perceived meaning contains the highest degree of interchangeability and will not change the utterance under relevant context. The common point of their definition is interchangeability. According to Merrium Webster’s Dictionary of Synonyms, the first work of English synonyms is the Difference between words Esteemed Synonymous by John Trusler which based on Abbe Gbriel Girard’ theory. From my point of view, synonyms refer to words that express the same idea but have subtle semantic or stylistic differences. The commonality between synonyms is that they express the same concept, but there are subtle differences in the scope of collocation or intention between the same concept. As far as I'm concerned, two words which could be used interchangeably do not exist.
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