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Legal language is the language spoken in courts and written in legal documents (including contracts, wills, and so on); I started my research of this language with a general mapping of the peculiarities making legal Hebrew a sub-language of (Modern) Hebrew and surveyed the means of coherence and cohesion that characterize legal texts:


The functioning of the tense system in the Hebrew legal discourse. 2008. Hebrew Linguistics 61: 7-28.

Legal Hebrew. 2013. Khan, G. ed. Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics II. Leiden/Boston: Brill: 492-497.


I discussed, in my first book, the linguistics means used by lawyers for demonstrating criminal intent:


A Pragmatic Analysis of Legal Proofs of Criminal Intent. (2007 John Benjamins)


The study of the linguistics means used for demonstrating criminal intent from lexical, logic-semantic and pragmatic points of view sheds some light on the typology of legal argumentation in general and its linguistic and pragmatics aspects in particular.


In The rationality of legal argumentation. 2009. Pragmatics & Cognition 17(2): 383-401.


I discussed legal argumentative patterns which are characterized by presuppositions that are not conveyed in the text explicitly (but are, at most, hinted in it), and are interpreted by the perceptive hearer as a certain layers of meaning of the text.


Examining the uses of implied presuppositions in the Israeli Hebrew legal discourse, necessitated some study of the unique Israeli way of statutory interpretation according to which the court should interpret statutes in light of the purpose behind their legislation:


The purposive method of legal interpretation in practice. 2013. International Journal of Law, Language & Discourse 3(1): 30-54.


This study of the extremely flexible Israeli method of statutes interpretation reveals the central position of the notion of “linguistic possibility” (as applied to judicial interpretations of legal texts) in the Israeli purposive method of statutory interpretation: linguistic possibility is one of the judicial criteria for appropriateness of purposive judicial interpretations. Discussing the controversies among the judges of the Supreme Court over this notion, I present in:

The legal notion of "linguistic possibility": The Israeli case. 2014. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law 28(2): 251-266.


two views about the legal meaning of “linguistic possibility”: according to the “empirical” view, an interpretation of a given expression is linguistically possible if the expression is occasionally used and understood as having the meaning suggested by the interpretation in question. According to the “theoretical” view, an interpretation of a given expression is linguistically possible if there is a method of interpretation that suggests, when applied to the expression in question, the same meaning that is suggested by the interpretation in question.

In order to consider generalization of the conclusions reached by studying modern  legal Hebrew to other historical and social contexts, I have applied the tool of interpretation to legal texts coming from discussions of the court of Jewish law in 18’th century Morocco and of Islamic law from the early 20’th century.


In The modes of action of Jews in the Muslim public sphere in Morocco –   linguistic and pragmatic analysis of legal texts". 2018. Peamim 156: 75-99.

I discuss (& Dror, J.) Jewish life in Fez (Morocco) at the beginning of the 20th century and their social and economic integration in the Islamic sphere; the discussion is based on pragmatic interpretation of a document from the archive of the Asaraff family. The analysis of this document shed light on the procedures on Sharia courts (according to the Maliki school of Islamic law) and on how colonial presence changed the institutional and cultural relations inside the Jewish community and how it changed Jews ability to function in the Islamic public sphere.

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