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Language Policy

Language Choice in Postcolonial Law

Lessons from Malaysia’s Bilingual Legal System

Authors: Powell, Richard

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  • Addresses the widespread but under-researched problem of language-based disadvantage in polities whose law is administered in an elite medium that most citizens lack proficiency in 
  • Applies language-planning, analytical tools more usually targeted at educational systems than at the legal domain
  • Presents an in-depth case study of a single jurisdiction while inviting comparisons with other postcolonial legal systems   
  • Draws on data from questionnaires and focus groups with 500 law students, interviews with 60 lawyers, and nationwide observations of courtroom hearings and law lectures
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About this book

This book discusses multilingual postcolonial common law, focusing on Malaysia’s efforts to shift the language of law from English to Malay, and weighing the pros and cons of planned language shift as a solution to language-based disadvantage before the law in jurisdictions where the majority of citizens lack proficiency in the traditional legal medium. Through analysis of legislation and policy documents, interviews with lawyers, law students and law lecturers, and observations of court proceedings and law lectures, the book reflects on what is entailed in changing the language of the law. It reviews the implications of societal bilingualism for postcolonial justice systems, and raises an important question for language planners to consider: if the language of the law is changed, what else about the law changes?

About the authors

Richard POWELL is a Professor (English/International Course/Language & Human Rights) in the Department of Economics at Nihon University, Japan. His research interests include forensic linguistics, legal English, language planning and cross-cultural pragmatics and he conducts research in East Africa, South Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. Coming to the field of language and law from a background in history (Cambridge), politics (SOAS, London), law (College of Law, London) and applied linguistics (Macquarie, Sydney), he holds a PhD in Sociolinguistics and Legal Education from Melbourne University. He is particularly interested in the macro-level decisions that influence conscious and subconscious individual choices in law and education. He is on the board of directors of Japan's Law and Language Association and sits on the advisory committee of a number of publications, including the International Journal of the Semiotics of Law and Law and Visual Jurisprudence. He is the book reviews editor of the International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law.

Table of contents (11 chapters)

Table of contents (11 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook 71,68 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-981-15-1173-8
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover 88,39 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-981-15-1172-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Immediate ebook access, if available*, with your print order
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
  • The final prices may differ from the prices shown due to specifics of VAT rules
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Language Choice in Postcolonial Law
Book Subtitle
Lessons from Malaysia’s Bilingual Legal System
Authors
Series Title
Language Policy
Series Volume
22
Copyright
2020
Publisher
Springer Singapore
Copyright Holder
Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.
eBook ISBN
978-981-15-1173-8
DOI
10.1007/978-981-15-1173-8
Hardcover ISBN
978-981-15-1172-1
Series ISSN
1571-5361
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XXI, 300
Number of Illustrations
22 b/w illustrations
Topics

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