The project

As Jean Giraudoux pointedly put it: “Never has a poet interpreted nature as freely as the lawyer interprets reality.” The complaint on the incomprehensibility of legal thinking and legal texts is a topos.
The researchers of the domain deal with the linguistic aspects of the constitution of legal terms. This firstly requires an investigation into how the legal perspective of matters is formed linguistically. Only then can the question of intermediation be tackled. The transparency of such conditions of constitution in law is therefore an indispensable prerequisite for the discussion of the aspects of mediation. Tracing such legal presentations of aspects of reality is necessarily the starting point of any attempt at mediation. On account of the complexity of the domain, it is only possible to give an idea of the matter by using several excerpts (from the real world) as examples.
Mediation or rather problems of understanding between law and everyday life can be explained on a textual and pragmatic level. This makes manifest how the constitution of legal and everyday matters differ and what significance linguistic signs have in this context.

Events & Results

    • The project-managers of the domain »Law« have been appointed consulting members of the editorial staff for »legal terminology« in the Federal Ministry of Justice.
    • The poject »Semantic Fights between National and International Courts of Law: Operationalising Language Procedures for Constituting Facticity in Law« is realised in cooperation with Prof. Dr Armin von Bogdandy, director of the Max-Planck-Institut for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg. The core of the project is Janine Luths PhD project titled »Power Struggles between National and International Courts of Law According to Public Opinion Semantische Kämpfe in the European Discourse of Law.« The project will be presented in the journal Der Staat in volume 3/2010.
    • The agenda of working with texts from a pragma-semiotic perspective as a starting point for the »Linguistic Discourse Analysis« is available in the publication »Language – Gate to the World« (text is available in German only). ( Verlagsinformationen)


The aims of the domain of knowledge Law may be described as follows:

  • What rulings get general social attention, and how is the codified legal norm of the legal texts set into relation with the social reality in these cases? How is a law, a legal norm (which often transcends the legal text) in these concrete cases generated?
  • How can the differing conceptualisations within the law, e.g. between liability lawyers, administrative lawyers, criminal lawyers be made clear (i.e. the making clear of different judicial views and nation-specific or rather EU-aspects in the process of law making)?
  • How does a lawyer – starting from the facts and legal texts as the legal frame of knowledge – form facts of the real world in view of the legal world and its schemata, which are reflected in legal texts, in previous jurisdiction and, where applicable, in legal literature?
  • How can the transformation of everyday needs into laws during the process of law formation be described – i.e. starting from non-legal experts (e.g. in administration, medicine, IT, economics), who feel something in a given area to be in need of a regulation e.g. the whole area of food, chemicals, medical insurance, up to politics and legal texts? To give a simple example: what happens in the process from the request of a chemist, who wants to protect the public, until a law is made?
  • How can the linguistic legal means of technical terms, syntagmata and intertextual references be described in their function and impact?
  • How can the understanding of legal texts (e.g. laws, court decisions, legal literature, etc) be made transparent?
  • How can the postulated attachment to laws and the practiced development in legal argumentation be clarified, and what role does technical vagueness play in this context?