From semantic weight to legal ontology via classification of concepts in legal texts

Allison, N. G. (2023) From semantic weight to legal ontology via classification of concepts in legal texts. Law Teacher, 57(2), pp. 201-217. (doi: 10.1080/03069400.2023.2173918)

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A difficulty with legal vocabulary is that concepts in different legal systems map imperfectly to each other, particularly from common law systems where classification is often unclear or convoluted to codified civil systems. Even within the English language domain there are numerous legal systems where concepts differ, e.g. between Scotland and England. This causes significant problems for students’, especially foreign language students’, reading comprehension and developing understanding of legal lexis where translation dictionaries, while they may be efficient, are imperfect. This article sets out a classification approach to reading and English language legal concept deep understanding rooted in theories from education and cognitive linguistics, in particular Categories and Prototypes, Schema theory, and Legitimation Code Theory (LCT). I have used the approach successfully for some years with international students studying law in Scotland, assisting their reading of textbooks and especially journal articles while building domain knowledge. The application of the strategy is presented in the context of research on the adoption of reading strategies which finds that adoption is influenced by awareness of the complexity of the concepts in the text, complexity of the strategy, and by how much particular strategies are seen as a valid method in legal study.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Allison, Mr Neil
Authors: Allison, N. G.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Journal Name:Law Teacher
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN (Online):1943-0353
Published Online:20 March 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 The Authors
First Published:First published in Law Teacher 57(2):201-217
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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