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Abstract

The purpose of this essay is to explore some of the main pragmatic aspects of communication within the legal context. It will be argued that in some crucial respects, the pragmatics of legal language is unique, involving considerations that are not typically present in ordinary conversational contexts. In particular, certain normative considerations that are typically settled in a regular conversational context are unresolved and potentially contentious in the legal case. On the other hand, the essay also argues that a careful distinction between various pragmatic aspects of language use enables us to offer some generalizations about types of pragmatic enrichment that could be taken to form, or not to form, part of what is actually determined by legal expressions.