International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue internationale de Sémiotique juridique

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 635–650

A Jurilinguistic Approach in Legal Education


    • Faculty of LawUniversité de Montréal

DOI: 10.1007/s11196-012-9278-5

Cite this article as:
Andino Dorato, J. Int J Semiot Law (2013) 26: 635. doi:10.1007/s11196-012-9278-5


The purpose of this essay is to advocate for including jurilinguistics in legal education. It presents jurilinguistics as a tool for understanding law and therefore supports continuing efforts to teach it. Knowing it is not unique, this essay proposes a jurilinguistic approach that focuses on the in-between of legal translation and comparative law. The proposal outlines the importance of educating in the capabilities of teaching a particular subject in a language other than their official one. The idea is to let the Other help to understand the Self. Particularly pertinent in transnational law programs, it is a multicultural approach that not only recognizes the other, but also embraces it.


JurilinguisticsLegal educationLegal translationComparative lawMulticulturalismLegal theory

1 Introduction

Changes in traditional paradigms, both in social sciences and in Jurisprudence particularly, constitute the theoretical framework making it worthwhile to advocate for the inclusion of jurilinguistics in legal education. The theory of law is losing its alleged “purity” and opening to “anti-positivistic” approaches.1 Subsequently, the philosophical linguistic approach in social science finds its way into law. Some of these new explanations may yield jurilinguistics to have a place in Jurisprudence [7]: 35–36 [18]: 85–86. Through hermeneutics [11, 61] and translation [62, 76] theories, jurilinguistics can have its role in understanding and explaining Law.

From a methodological perspective, this study first deals with the nomenclature and content of jurilinguistics as well as paradigm shifts in legal education. Considering that jurilinguistics, as is the case with any new and still developing discipline, is far from having a consensus on its definition or its place in legal science, it seems important to first focus on its content. It also seems accurate to point out some relevant changes in legal education. To better present the jurilinguistic approach here proposed, it seems necessary to precise the particular context of the study. Quebec legal milieu and the author’s background frame the interest of the method in transnational legal education.

Following those conceptualizing and contextualizing sections, this study suggests that jurilinguistics, via legal translation and comparative law, is a fresh venue for legal analysis. Through a series of wh-questions, it presents how the use of a third language in the classroom might provide new perspectives in the study of a particular legal institution. Conscious of the constraints of such a method, the essay outlines why this jurilinguistic approach respects multiculturalism in legal education.

2 Prior Considerations on Jurilinguistics and Legal Education

It is important to insist that the only goal of this section is to fix the concept of jurilinguistics adopted in this essay as well as the legal education approach here preferred. Otherwise, the reader might be disappointed. Neither the many possible relations between jurilinguistics and legal education nor an exhaustive analysis of jurilinguistics or legal education in particular are objects of this study.

Even if this section included the content of different footnotes specifying the background or justifying the choice of a particular idea, in order to ease the text, the reader is asked to bear these brief and general precisions. As a result, the following paragraphs will first focus on the nomenclature and content of jurilinguistics as a growing discipline and second, on modern ideas of legal education. Without clarifying this departure point, the jurilinguistic approach may appear void.

2.1 Nomenclature

By and large, studies on jurilinguistics come from a praxis concerned with law and language issues. Therefore, jurilinguistics could, generally, be defined as a discipline focused on law and language. Still, its actual content and field of study is indistinct, which affects the nomenclature itself. Thus, it seems imperative to justify the reasons for using the term jurilinguistics instead of legal linguistics or, simply, law and language.

Though there is no motive against the use of the last two names, it seems appealing to promote the use of the name jurilinguistics. There are two main reasons to support this choice. The first one might be called “geography” and the second one “marketing”.

The important role Canadian and Quebecker doctrine has in jurilinguistics in general and in this study particularly supports the “geography” motivation. Since 1982, when a collective work published by Le Conseil de la langue française du Québec used the name jurilinguistics in its title [23], Jean-Claude Gémar, and other Canadian and Quebecker scholars, have promoted the development of jurilinguistics as a discipline. This paper endorses the importance and interest of developing its theory autonomously. It then seems fair to keep this name. Despite jurilinguistics being more frequently used in francophone (jurilinguistique) or bi-lingual literature, the combination of the prefix juri to the suffix linguistics is possible in English.2 However, this choice is risky because the content, given here under this name, does not completely coincide with the well-known work of Jean-Claude Gémar. In this sense, it is not limited to the exclusively linguistic approach of this author [22]: 7. On the contrary, this study echoes the critique outlined by Gérard Cornu and emphasizes the raports between law and language, and the possiblity of focusing on juridical aspects [7]: 1–11. There is no impediment in using the term to host the study of both linguistic and legal aspects, the same way as than in other domains, such as sociolinguistics, where the use of sociolinguistics or sociology of language is debated [74]: 13.

Grouping a discipline and the professionals interested in it, under one name, helps to give a sense of belonging. As a result, the “marketing” reason for keeping the name jurilinguistics becomes important. When the choice of keeping jurilinguistics can be precisely be attacked because of the possible misleading of the ideas of J-C Gémar, an important support to using jurilinguistics may come from the critic himself. In G. Cornu’s words: “[…] l’avantage de ce choix [jurilinguistique] est de donner un nom de métier [jurilinguiste] à ceux qui s’y adonnent.” [7] It seems advantageous to name the profession with just one word.

Besides, also from a “marketing” motive and a practical point of view, jurilinguistics might allow for the combination of different works on a shared topic under a common name. This may facilitate the research in the field by spreading its use as a keyword.3

So, consequent to no determining factor and mainly as a tribute to Canadian scholars and for practical reasons, jurilinguistics is the nomenclature this article proposes for referring to law and language studies. Still, this large notion needs precision in the content under that name.

2.2 Content of Jurilinguistics

It is possible to imagine jurilinguistics as a bridge with two different pillars (linguistics and law). Through the back and forth between both pillars, jurilinguistics takes in a broad range of studies focused on law and language. It goes from “producing, drafting, manipulating, interpreting, translating and comparing legal texts” [21]:xv [author’s translation] to analyzing legal aspects of language, either legal or vulgar [7]: 1–2.

The content of jurilinguistics seems, at this juncture, a synthesis of J-C Gémar’s and G. Cornu’s ideas [6, 7, 2022]. Although partly true, there is still more to it. Jurilinguistics is not only a discipline placed between law and language. It is a discipline that studies the in-between-entre4 law and language. The content—and richness—of the discipline, engraved in a pensée metise [49, 50, 60], is the back and forth. It is not a fixed middle point between them. Scholarly works can focus on one pillar or the other, on both together, or on the transit in-between. It seems important to keep this large spectrum for jurilinguistics. This will enrich and facilitate exchange among researchers interested in law and language. It gathers under one name a field of study that includes the diversity of the different realities that make jurilinguistics grow as a theory and the developments of the theory itself.

This study focuses on the theory, particularly on its potential in legal education. The premise here, parting from G. Cornu’s ideas, is the role of jurilinguistics as an auxiliary to the theory of law. So, jurilinguistics is a tool to explore, understand and explain law. Some—unfortunately, not that many—interesting studies point out that jurilinguistics can “be instrumental as an introduction to law and additionally […] it can even function as its theory [… This] is a step worth considering, especially in legal education.” [18]: 75. The author goes on, stating that “[i]t is not the theory of law, because law can be approached from different perspectives; for us however the linguistic perspective is the decisive one for the description of the theoretical problems in law.” [18]: 85.

Following this role, jurilinguistics has its place in Jurisprudence. It is a tool to understand law. Accordingly, the goal of this essay is to explore how and why jurilinguistics can be of use in legal education. But before entering the jurilinguistic approach, it is necessary to offer an overview of some ideas on legal education that support this proposal.

2.3 Shifts in Legal Education

Legal bi or multilingualism and bi or multijuralism, both so significant to jurilinguistic studies, as well as the increase of global exchanges5 have an enormous influence in new theoretical approaches in legal education. Faculties of law had to adapt their methods to these realities. These changes may facilitate the inclusion of the jurilinguistic approach in legal education.

The first consideration—legal bilingualism or bijuralism—led faculties of law, immersed in such a context, to renew their pedagogical approaches. The requirement to cope with more than one legal language and more than one legal system forced them to strengthen the focus on comparative and translation issues. In matters of global exchange, even before globalization became an everyday word, comparatists suggested changes in legal education in order to outcome an exclusive local approach, temporally limited [55].

The interest in internationalizing or transnationalizing legal education, and higher education in general, has been widespread in scholarly works, for decades now [4, 19, 35, 39, 52, 67]. Higher education is concerned with “the process of integrating an international, intercultural or global dimension into the purpose, functions or delivery of post-secondary education” [45]: 11. In the words of the honorable Nicholas Kasirer: “[l]egal education should include the experience of contact between legal orders as an organizing theme for training lawyers as cross-cultural actors. This is legal education as métissage.” [40]: 489. There is a need to prepare lawyers for a multilateral world [39] and not exclusively as technicians in one or more particular legal system. Coinciding with jurilinguistic domains, the importance of foreign languages6 is a recurrent relevant affaire in legal education. So is the interest and relevance of both legal translation and comparative law [19, 27, 67, 75].

3 Prior Considerations-in-the-Mirror

In the sense suggested by Boaventura de Sousa Santos in an stimulating Chapter [10]: 237, which title inspires this one, this section provides context to this study through a self-biography and self-portrait parcours.7

3.1 The Self and the Other: Canada and Quebec

As supra introduced, Canada and, particularly, Quebec are the context of departure for this essay. Due to constitutional requirements of bilingualism (bilingual English and French legislation) and bijuralism (coexistence of civil and common law depending on the field of law), Quebec is a laboratory both in the field of jurilinguistics and legal education. And McGill’s Faculty of Law is at the center of this scene. The Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law hosts the Summer Institute of Jurilinguistics, an annual gathering that brings together “more than a hundred participants drawn from different fields with ties to jurilinguistics”.8

From all the law programs in Quebec, the transystemic program, in place at McGill’s Faculty of Law since 1999, appears as one of the most interesting.9 Under the original and novel McGill undergraduate program [35]: 173, in several classes, the teaching of civil and common law is integrated and not side-by-side or in a sequential treatment, as the more common comparative approach [59]: 19. In addition, every mandatory course is offered in both official languages, for students to choose. Also—as reading material is delivered in its original language, independently of the language of teaching—, it normally requires passive bilingual comprehension by the student. This qualification goes for both senses, as professors are expected to accept participation in class and productions either in English or French.

This novel comparative and linguistic attitude is also present in Quebec literature. In this sense, several scholars approach in the work, the study of a particular legal institution emphasizing both on legal vocabulary and legal translation as well as dialoguing between legal languages and systems. It is to mention the work of N. Kasirer (i.e. on property, marriage conditions, civil liability [3638, 42]).

Even if these scholarly productions, similar to the McGill program, are still considered the Self (Quebecker and Canadian bilingualism and bijuralism), they are very encouraging in order to introduce the jurilinguistic approach in legal education. They facilitate the use of a similar methodology to put forward the Other in the understanding of the Self. Probably, the most inspiring work for this essay is N. Kasirer’s work on Portalis’ Discourse on Ownership [41].

Besides these jurilinguistic samples, the Other started having a significant presence at McGill’s Faculty of Law. As professor Roderick A. Macdonald predicted, the transsystemic program opened to more “multilingual, multijurisdictional and multidisciplinary” approaches.10

3.2 The Self and the Other: Spanish and Latin America

As for circumstantial reasons, the Spanish language and the legal culture of Latin American became of interest for this global world,11 Quebec and the Faculty of Law at McGill University were no exception.12 With a novel linguistic and comparative approach, a student association started developing seminars and workshops on legal Spanish and Latin American legal systems.

Several workshops, offered in 2004 and 2005 aimed to improve the ability of practicing lawyers, law professors and law students to express legal ideas in Spanish through the analysis of a concrete legal subject (i.e. responsibility and punitive damages, corporations, freedom of press and the right to privacy). The debates took place in Spanish, and materials were in the original language (mostly Spanish). These workshops showed how students were inevitably faced with unexpected and unexplored questions of the legal language and legal system they were most familiar with due to the inclusion of a third language and a third legal system.

Afterwards, the Grupo Hispano moved to offer an accredited course in the law program each academic year on Latin American matters. The courses were provided completely in Spanish, which was an important step in accepting the Other and giving it room in its own language and its own characteristics.

This context allows proposing not only the viability of the inclusion of the jurilinguistics approach in legal education in the Quebecker scenario but also its necessity and significance in any law program that seeks transnationality. The recognition of the Other is on the same side of the jurilinguistic approach. In such a context, the Other may be less other and join the understanding of the Self.

3.3 The Self and the Other: Rio and English

The last and certainly not least contextual piece needed for this essay is well exemplified in its prelude: the 10th International Roundtable for the Semiotics of Law “Intercultural Awareness in Legal Language”, which was held in Rio in November 2011. At this gathering, in a Portuguese-speaking environment, legal semiotic issues from non-English-speaking locations such as Quebec, Brazil, Italy, Poland, Russia and Thailand were presented in English.13

With its good and bad still up for debate, English is the lingua franca of globalization, and the scholar domain is no exception to this reality.14 On the good side, scholars faced with a translation exercise experience its inevitable difficulties and benefices. The fear of intraduisibles and the joy of the unexpected questions appear. Translation theorists pointed out how ideas can be enriched and clarified by translation [3, 13]. This is an empirical experience that most transnational scholars go through. This important insight is also inspirational to sustain a jurilinguistic approach in legal education as a way to understand law from a different perspective.

Following this conceptualizing and contextualizing detour, it is time to specify the jurilinguistic approach. Though the combination of these concrete examples supports its inclusion in legal education, the proposal is, for the moment, a quasi-abstract idea. The goal of this essay is to demystify a utopian view of the jurilinguistic approach and to introduce it in the scholar debate.

4 The Jurilinguistic Approach

Legal education has surrendered to positivist ideas as much as Jurisprudence did. In this sense, linguistic considerations were usually only kept for pure theory classes or hard case analysis. Everyday law seemed to be taught more and more without proper attention to linguistic aspects or tools. The theoretical master class style spread in legal programs and law schools focused more and more on the technical teaching of indigenous law.

Fortunately, as supra presented, in the last decades, this approach started to change. Faculties began focusing on law and language issues. Though not always presented this way, jurilinguistics’ large spectrum gained room in legal education both in theory and praxis. Authors and professors, through different approaches, studied and taught law with an emphasis on the relation between law and language. Law became again a “profession of words” [56]:vii. Hermeneutics, rhetoric, interpretation, literature, communication, discourse analysis and translation became familiar terms in legal theory and legal education [62]: 97–101, [31].

Legal education also sought internationalization. Teaching foreign legal languages, comparison and legal translation issues occupied scholars both in doctrine works or law programs planning [26, 28, 44, 65, 71].

Therefore, neither the hermeneutical-translation theoretical support nor legal translation nor comparative law is completely new in legal education. In particular, this essay suggests a jurilinguistc approach that proposes the study of law by an in-between legal translation (from the linguistic pillar) and comparative law (from the juridical pillar). It is the transit in-between legal translation and comparative law that matters. This transit is a tool to understand and teach law. The Other (the other language and juridical prejudices) helps understanding the Self (a particular legal institution).

The goal is to focus on teaching law for a global world, using, as one possible method, a jurilinguistic approach through a different use of legal translation and comparative law. This approach offers novel perspective analysis on traditional legal institutions. It helps to train lawyers in the capacity to think in-between different legal and linguistic cultures. The Other is not there as an object to be understood or compared, from outside. It is a tool to understand the Self.

Some wh-questions allow explaining the inclusion of the jurilinguistic approach in legal education. The first part is dedicated to specify the two elements of the jurilinguistic approach: legal translation and comparative law (what?). Then, the analysis focuses on the way of implementing it (how?) and the interest of such a method (why?). Last, the study suggests constraints and possible ways of carrying out the jurilinguistic approach (when?).

4.1 What?

In this essay, legal translation refers to non-authoritative legal translation [68]: 20. It does not focus on legal translation for drafting bilingual or multilingual legislation where these kinds of translations become the law itself. Neither does it contemplate the translation of legal texts as certificates, contracts, corporate documents, etc. Notwithstanding its theoretical interest, those are not the exercise the jurilinguistic approach seeks. This study focuses then, on the translation of statutes, jurisprudence and doctrine into an Other language, a language different from its legal one(s). It could be extended to analyze other legal sources but the scope of this essay is limited to these traditional ones.

In the matter of comparative law, this essay follows the idea that the comparative method is a way to think Law, that it is not the mere piling up of similarities or differences between two (or more) legal systems, but a theoretical approach in Jurisprudence [64, 66]. The importance of the Other to understand the Self is absorbed in this theoretical approach.

The jurilinguistic approach explores the tight link between legal translation and comparative law [26, 29, 72] as an in-between that permits studying a particular legal institution from the Other.

Legal translation is the key to the Other language. It is a third language, different to the official one(s) of the institution under study. Comparative law is the key to the Other legal prejudices. The Other interprets the legal institution from a different perspective, opening a dialogue that challenges it. The Self is faced with new questions. It is the hermeneutical circle, or spiral, that appears here.

The Other interprets in a fresh way. This goes back to the Self, who needs to re-translate and re-interpret his own terms. This dialogue, a circle in between the Other and the Self, seems beneficial in legal education and imperative for a true multicultural approach.15

The actual exercise of translation, the transfer from one language to another, has a passive role. It is a way of understanding a legal institution from a different perspective by the presence of the Other language.

Similar to translation, comparative law has a passive role. The idea is not to do an active comparative work between one particular institution under study and a similar (or different) one in another system. The inclusion of comparative law is subtler. It appears under the form of the legal prejudices. The other legal system(s) associated with the other language is present, but in a passive comparative way. Different questions, such as interpretative venues, appear from particular prejudices. This forces the legal translator to pose those particular questions and not others in order to experience those particular difficulties and not others. In this way, comparative law opens students and professors to the other, but in the self. The other is not studied as an exterior object. Actually, it is not at all studied; it comes only as a tool to study the self.

Then, inclusion in the classroom of a third language, allows the dialogue between the Other and the Self. The presence of the Other challenges the Self to help its understanding.

4.2 How?

The inclusion of the jurilinguistic approach might be easier in legal programs administered by scholars who have become jurilinguistic-friendly by now and have already strengthened their focus on legal translation and comparative law. Programs previously more open to transnational ideas and the Other than to vernacular and positivist methods are the aim of this approach.

Quebec and McGill are not the only examples of programs opening to jurilinguistic concerns [35, 51]. The concern is also present in many other latitudes throughout Canada, the United States, Europe and, to a lesser degree, Latin America [8, 9, 14, 17, 28, 3133, 52, 57, 63, 69, 70]. They consciously focus on legal language, approaching foreign law in its own language or offering foreign legal language courses. Usually linked to transnational approaches, they try to understand the Other by the Other in order to get at the heart of its legal culture and language. Thus, comparative law and legal translation become of interest.

These are important steps forward for a multicultural vision. The jurilinguistic approach proposed here complements this line of action. In this case, the Other is not to be understood; the Other is a tool for understanding the Self. Instruction in a third language is a key for the jurilinguistic approach.

The third language is how the in-between legal translation and comparative law manifests itself. The other legal language comes with its own legal prejudices. These can be attached to one or more positive legal systems (for instance, legal Spanish has variations among different Latin American countries, Spain and the European Union). The necessity for taking a law expressed in another language and studying, transmitting and understanding it in a third language leads to unexplored questions, difficulties and interpretations. It proposes novel perspectives of studies attached to the official language(s) of the particular legal institution. This is how the Other introduces himself for studying the Self.

As supra expressed, it is not a comparative law exercise, nor is it a legal translation work in a traditional sense. However, there may be room for some exercises in the more common style. Accordingly, parts of a statute, doctrinal and judicial pieces might actually be translated (transferred to a different language). Also, the particular institution can be compared to a parallel institution that exists in another legal system (showing differences or similarities). But this cannot be all.

Most important, the jurilinguistic approach requires the exercise of constantly using the Other (legal language and prejudices) to approach the study of the Self (the particular legal institution expressed in a different language). Then, the presence in the classroom of a third language, different from the official one(s) of the institution under study, fulfills this requirement. Instead of studying a foreign law in its foreign language, the aim is to study the indigenous law in a foreign language and, from there, interpret the Self by the Other.

Although any traditional subject and any mandatory course in the law program can be taught this way, it might be useful, considering its constraints, to limit it to some classes in the course or combine it with strategies already in use in order to implement it. This will be further developed under the “when?” section.

4.3 Why?

A first advantage of the jurilinguistics approach is exposing students in regular classes to the analysis of issues like the clarity of legal language and legal interpretation instead of offering them the exclusively theoretical or philosophical aspects.

The presence of the third language in the classroom acts as a mirror for complex, baroque or obscure language. Difficulties of the Other in expressing the Self force an enriching dialogue. It can outline ambiguity and inconsistence in cases that a unilingual study might not discover. It forces students and professors to seriously face questions that otherwise may not have appeared. It also can force an author to review traditional distinctions or doctrinal considerations that seem standard in one legal language and system (the Self) but unnecessary or superficial when expressed in another language linked to different legal prejudices (the Other) [44]: 10.

Above and beyond these benefits, the jurilinguistic approach offers a technique or a method that truly embraces multiculturalism. Similar to the good and the bad of globalization in general, a transnational program can have its good and bad. This study maintains that any “good” transnational program needs a multicultural approach. The jurilinguistic approach helps with overcoming risks inherent in attitudes that still remain, somehow, colonialist, or individualistic, or at the very least void of a fully multicultural outlook.

Adopting an “international” approach or increasing student and academic exchanges do not automatically guarantee a multicultural attitude [46]. Generally, transnational programs have (or should have) overcome fear, rejection or assimilation of the other. However, very often, the other is merely accepted; it is kept at a distance.

In order to be truly multicultural, the other needs to be appreciated and acknowledged. This needs to appear not only in the description or conception of the program itself but also in teaching methods [32]. The jurilinguistic approach is more than just accepting the other; it is embracing it. The in-between legal translation and comparative law has the benefit of embracing the Other as a way for understanding the Self. The dialogue thus created is an acknowledgement of the Other. It is an enriching circle where the Other and the Self change without losing individuality.

Besides these assets, evidently, the jurilinguistic approach also has its downsides which are exposed in the next section.

4.4 When?

The jurilinguistic approach is very demanding. It requires, at a minimum, passive, bilingual and bijural legal competences. In bilingual and bijural systems, this requirement quickly transforms into multilingual and multijural abilities. The linguistic conditions apply to both professors and students. Moreover, it requires training not only in particular fields of law but also in legal translation and comparative method skills.

There are academic and financial constraints in applying the jurilinguistic approach. Professors are not always trained in transnational programs and might lack the necessary competences. Training is time-consuming and expensive. Evidently, therefore, it is utopic to aim to apply this approach in every class at the undergraduate and even graduate program levels. Moreover, this would be against the approach itself. It is an interesting method, with a lot of potential in transnational programs. But, it certainly does not aspire to exclusivity. It is to be considered an additional practice, a useful complement in the pursuit of a multicultural context.

Notwithstanding that the jurilinguistic approach may be perceived to be limited to a select group, its ultimate interest lies in exposing jurists and jurists-to-be to jurilinguisitc concerns as much as possible and as soon as possible (clarity in legal language, legal interpretation, etc.). Its goal is to open to the other, to study the Self through the Other and to quake traditional and auto-referent analysis also as much and as soon as possible. For this to be truly interesting, it cannot be limited to elite studies, but needs to be widely offered. Transnational legal education needs this shift in perspective in order to be truly multicultural. Then, these constraints can be opportunities.

There are ways for overcoming the difficulties, since this is in the best interest of transnational programs. Naturally, this usually requires a political institutional agreement regarding the importance of the matter.

The jurilinguistic approach can offer the chance to comparatist professors, many of whom are confined to theoretical classes and oftentimes underestimated by their students, the opportunity to actively promote comparison as a useful tool in understanding law. They can co-teach classes in particular domains. They can work closely with other professors in assembling classes using the jurilinguistic approach.

The jurilinguistic approach can link law and translation departments,16 creating suitable opportunities for deepening interdisciplinary work. Classes can be the joint work of professors from both spheres, mutually enriching their competences. The professor from the translation department can collaborate with students on difficulties encountered during the translation of a particular legal institution while the law group works on legal interpretation issues that subsequently arise. The dialogue that ensues leads to a more profound analysis of the law.

It is also an opportunity to enhance multiculturalism in academic foreign exchanges. In this sense, visiting professors, undergraduate students and graduate students can be asked to challenge the Self. They may not only learn from the Self they are visiting but also have the opportunity to share the Other and to make it available to local legal educators. It is an excellent situation for promoting a creative dialogue. It proposes a transit, from accepting the other, to embracing it.

An interesting way to combine already existing experiences is to complete the teaching of foreign legal language classes. Instead of exclusively using foreign law examples in its own language, the foreign language can be used to analyze indigenous law. Courses on Jurisprudence, including jurilinguistics itself, can also be offered in a foreign language. A course can combine both strategies. In this sense, parting from a first theoretical part introducing elements of jurilinguistics, it then can focus on a particular local legal institution, all in a third language.

Some of the good in globalization might, if not overcome, at least, ease certain constraints. In this sense, technology has an important role to play. New technologies allow for continuing the dialogue, or even creating it, without being physically presence [32]. This might reduce costs and multiply the opportunities to connect with professors willing to use the jurilinguistic approach.

Transnational programs will benefit from this approach. It might help legal education to further overcome local analysis, whether from one or more jurisdictions, and to truly become transnational and multicultural.

5 Conclusions

Despite the benefits, the jurilinguistic approach may still be considered unrealistic, too demanding and even elitist. However, this study shows the interest in promoting it. It is not a utopia; it is a necessity. Jurisprudence paradigms are changing, and legal education needs to accompany the process. Jurilinguistics might help to abandon positivistic ideas and make room for the linguistic turn in legal theory.

Besides, even if intensity defers, depending on the region, legal education in the global world is going through dramatic and urgent transformations. It seems necessary to learn from critics on other globalization arenas. It is important to use its good and avoid its bad. Hence, international or transnational programs in legal education must show a true multicultural attitude. In this sense, including the jurilinguistic approach among its methods can be very advantageous.

Thus, despite its constraints, the jurilinguistic approach presents many benefits to legal education and makes a compelling case for its feasibility.


The expressions in inverted commas show the shift in the paradigm from a positivistic view, represented by the classic work of Hans Kelsen, to new ideas, some of them with a linguistic support, i.e. those put together in a collective work, where Andrée Lajoie uses the expression anti-positivist. See, [43, 48].


For the matter (in French) see J.-C. Gémar’s explanation in a note [22]: 7.


For the importance of keywords in legal research see, [25].


In the word of François Laplantine et Alexis Nouss, the idea of entre means “l’interstitialité métisse, qui est le contraire de l’homogène et du compact, ne désigne pas un état situé dans un espace. Elle introduit un devenir. Elle n’occupe pas une place intermédiaire entre deux pôles, elle n’est pas un point situé à équidistance entre les deux, mais un mouvement rythmique d’intermittence” [50]: 217.


The term globalization is used as a generic word to described the increase global exchange in many different fields, political, economic, cultural, etc. Its use will be reduced at a minimum as it is not the goal of this paper to enter in that matter. The premise is a recognition of the factual increase of exchanges and the existence of intense debates on its goodness and methods.


It is to note particularly the interest in English in no English-speaking environments. Scholars outlined the conflict between publishing in the local language and in English [2].


I participated in the context here described through my métisse [60]: 9–11 experience as a Canadian landed immigrant, as a Court Interpreter in Montreal and as an undergraduate and graduate student at the Faculty of Law of Université de Montréal. I was exposed to McGill´s Faculty of Law´s approach to bilingualism and biljuralism through my work as a researcher at Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law. There, I collaborated with the organization of the 3rd, 4th and 5th Summer Institutes of Juringustics. I also collaborated with the Grupo Hispano, following my work of co-organizing the series of Legal Spanish Workshops and teaching many of them.


See (last visited May, 7th 2012). The increasing number of participants trough the 3rd (2009), 4th (2010) and 5th (2011) Summer Institute of Jurilinguistics shows the growing interest in the field and the richness of multidisciplinary and multilingual exchanges.


For several studies on the McGill program see, (last visited May, 7th 2012).


See (last visited May, 7th 2012), [53]: 738–739.


It is of most importance to note that this study suggests no supremacy whatsoever of Spanish and Latin America upon other languages or legal cultures. Particular conjunctures pushed these two Others to be of consideration. Spanish is one of the most spoken languages of the world. It is one of the four main languages of the Americas and one of the foreign languages most spoken in Canada and Quebec [34]; it is the second language in the US and the one with most presense in Latin America. As for Latin America, it is note the number of Free Trade Agreements Canada signed with several countries of the region (with the US and Mexico—NAFTA 1994, with Chile 1997, with Costa Rica 2002, with Colombia 2008, with Perou 2009 and with Panamá 2010). Source: (last visited November, 30th 2011).


For further information on the main actors of this process: LALSA (a student Association focused on Latin American issues and Spanish language) and the Grupo Hispano de la Facultad de derecho, listen to Nelcy López Cuéllar presentation at (last visited May, 7th 2012).


As a result, English is the language of this essay, with the foreignness of the French-speaking origin of jurilinguistics and my Spanish-speaking background in it.


For the lingua franca in general and English particularly as well as its role in law, see [1, 2, 5, 12, 15, 16, 30, 54, 58, 73].


After its Canadian origin, the term multiculturalism rapidly spread. Though it usually implies the recognition of difference and cultural diversity, its means are not univocal [24, 47]. Consequently, it is necessary to explain that, in this essay, the term is used in the sense of not only accepting but embracing the other. It is much inspired in the idea of métissage proposed by Alexis Nouss [60].


The Faculté de droit de l’Université de Moncton offered for the 2010 Winter session a course on jurilinguistics accessible both to law and translation students. See (last visited May 14th 2012).


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012