Fighting over Words

Fighting over Words : Language and Civil Law Cases

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Most people fight over something or other and language is usually at the very center of the conflict. Often the way we use language is the cause of the battle. There are many areas in which fighting about language can be observed but civil law cases offer the most fertile examples of this warfare over words. What did the contract actually say? Was there deception in the advertising? Was the warning label clear and effective? Did the company evidence race of age discrimination against employees or customers? Was one company's name too similar to that of another company? Did the corporation plagiarize the work of another? Did it fraudulently represent what its work? This book is about the ways linguistic analysis describes, exposes, and aids disputes in 18 civil cases where language framed the battle ground. Roger Shuy, a well-known forensic linguist and consultant, shows how the skills of linguistic analysis can help resolve disputed meanings, while also showing how civil cases can prove to be fertile ground for linguistic scholarship. He does this by collecting and analyzing cases involving contracts, trademark disputes, advertisements, product liability, copyright infringement, discrimination, and fraud controversies. In each case he employs all the tools of formal linguistics to show how it can be as helpful as other physical sciences in resolving legal disagreements. The work will be of interest primarily to linguists - sociolinguists, forensic linguists, and scholars and students of law and society - as well as lawyers and law more

Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 152.4 x 236.22 x 22.86mm | 521.63g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195328833
  • 9780195328837

Review quote

"More than any other scholar working at the interface of language and law, Shuy has exemplified the uses to which linguistics can be put in the legal arena. This is applied linguistics at its most practical, and Shuy, in Fighting Over Words and his six other books, models it comprehensively." --Language "Fighting Over Words is a thought-provoking beyond the particular US cases it presents. Each page is a vivid reminder of how open to interpretations language is, and how easily it can become a minefield in social relationships, including commercial transactions and negotiation. In this respect the book raises important issues not only about linguistic evidence in the courtroom but about how contemporary public communication is best managed and regulated in a period of interpretive mistrust." --Times Higher Educationshow more

About Roger W. Shuy

Roger Shuy is Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, Georgetown University. He is the author of Linguistics in the Courtroom: A Practical Guide and Creating Language Crimes: How Law Enforcement Uses (and Misuses) more