English for legal purposes and domain-specific cultural awareness

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In a departure from mainstream language-orientated English for Legal Purposes (ELP) didactic approaches, this article focuses on target legal culture. It identifies the ‘Continental paradox’ which relates to the appropriation of common law legal culture as source legal culture by the lay public of civil law countries, and evokes the didactic repercussions of the phenomenon. The author identifies the 3-phase cognitive process which underlies the acquisition of the ersatz legal culture in the light of Konrad Lorenz’s imprinting theories and Stephen Krashen’s acquisition theories. Focusing on a French environment, she then probes into the media-related, academic and didactic reasons which sustain such misconceptions, notably amongst law students themselves, but concludes that changing public expectations regarding transparency in the justice system may usher in remedial counter-discourse.


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