Ejlr_2016_cover_large
Rss

European Journal of Law Reform

About this journal  

Subscribe to the email alerts for this journal here to receive notifications when a new issue is at your disposal.

Issue 1, 2020 Expand all abstracts
Article

A Linguistic Insight into the Legislative Drafting of English-Speaking Jurisdictions

The Use of ‘Singular They’

Keywords gender neutrality, ‘singular they’, linguistic insight, legislative drafting, English-language jurisdictions
Authors Giulia Adriana Pennisi
AbstractAuthor's information

    Gender specificity in legislation started being questioned in the late 20th century, and the need to reform the way in which laws have been written for more than one-hundred years has been particularly evident in English-language jurisdictions. In the 1990s and 2000s, the adoption of a plain English style forced legislative drafters to avoid sentences of undue length, superfluous definitions, repeated words and gender specificity with the aim of achieving clarity and minimizing ambiguity.
    Experts in the legal field have suggested reorganizing sentences, avoiding male pronouns, repeating the noun in place of the pronoun, replacing a nominalization with a verb form, resorting to ‘the singular they’. This article gives a linguistic insight into the use of ‘singular they’ in English, beginning with a historical background and going on to assess the impact of its use in the primary legislation issued in a selection of English-language jurisdictions (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, the US) in the last decade (2008-2018). Given the environment of legislative drafting techniques, where considerable reliance on precedent is inevitable, proposals to change legislative language may produce interesting results in different jurisdictions.


Giulia Adriana Pennisi
Associate Professor (field of research, English Language and Translation) at the University of Palermo, Department of Political Science and International Relations; Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Sir William Dale Centre, University of London.
Article

Gender Neutrality in EU Legislative Drafting

Keywords legislative drafting, EU legislation, EU treaties, multilingualism, gender neutrality
Authors William Robinson
AbstractAuthor's information

    In the English-speaking world the issue of gender-neutral drafting in legislation has been a much discussed topic for many years, and there are few legislative drafting manuals in the English-speaking world that do not address the issue.
    The EU and its institutions also attach great importance to gender issues, as is shown by the solemn commitments in EU texts to gender equality, by the establishment at the EU level of bodies or committees to focus on those issues, and by the EU actions and policies that seek to address them. But the issue of gender-neutral drafting in legislation is not even mentioned in the guidance drawn up by the legislative drafting experts of the EU institutions.
    This contribution, therefore, looks at how gender issues are dealt with in practice in the EU Treaties and in EU legislation. It finds signs of a traditional approach that is beginning to evolve but only slowly and somewhat unevenly.
    The contribution considers some of the reasons behind the approach taken by the EU institutions to gender neutrality in drafting and the impact of the important EU principles of multilingualism and multiculturalism before seeking to draw some conclusions.


William Robinson
Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London; formerly a coordinator in the Quality of Legislation Team of the European Commission Legal Service.
Article

Gender-Neutral Drafting

A View from Wales

Keywords gender, legislation, English, Welsh, LGBTQIA+
Authors Thomas Glyn Watkin
AbstractAuthor's information

    The gender classification of words in English is different from that in many other languages, including Welsh. The approach in Welsh is more closely aligned to that in languages such as French, Spanish or Italian, but there are also differences. The differences include the manner in which possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives are employed. These differences pose difficulties for bilingual drafting in English and Welsh.
    This article will consider some of those difficulties, their root causes and some possible solutions as well as look at issues that may or may not complicate matters further in the future.


Thomas Glyn Watkin
Queen’s Counsel (honoris causa); Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales; Honorary Professor of Law, Bangor University. First Welsh Legislative Counsel (2007-2010); Professor of Law, Bangor Law School (2004-2007); Professor of Law, Cardiff Law School (2001-2004).
Article

Gender and Language

A Public Law Perspective

Keywords gender language, drafting, language, coercion, linguistic policies
Authors Maria De Benedetto
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article adopts a public law perspective in order to focus on Gender-Fair Language (GFL) policies and drafting, by considering both language neutralization and language differentiation in some legal systems characterized by different languages.
    The article argues that the real problem is whether it is possible to coerce legislative and administrative language as a tool for policies. In fact, coercion of language produces administrative costs and side effects on freedoms (such as freedom of speech and freedom to teach); controls and sanctions are needed for enforcement; but, overall, language (as an institution) is not a proper object of regulation.


Maria De Benedetto
Full Professor, Roma Tre University, Roma, Italy.
Article

Language and Gender

The Importance of Including a Gender Perspective in the Language of the Constitutional Reform in Spain

Keywords language, gender, Constitution, reform, Spain
Authors Ana Marrades
AbstractAuthor's information

    Language is a reflection of culture, and at the same time it helps to build that culture. In the same way, it can be used to transform it. Language serves for describing a culture, to show what we see, but at the same time, it strengthens the relationships of power that exist on the basis of male power. In this way, we can use language to build other kinds of relationships based on equality.
    The Spanish Constitution is written in the masculine. Although it is based on equality, masculine language shows that the power relations lean towards men, and this hides women’s participation. When a text or a legal message uses structures or words that hide or discriminate against one gender, it can be said that linguistic sexism exists, and this violates the principle of equality. This is a reflection about what is happening in our society because language describes cultural values. This exclusion of women in the constitutional text is in itself a denial of them as subjects of rights and as citizens. This is not only a denial of the part of power that corresponds to them, but also the consolidation of a collective story of female subordination.
    Therefore this article aims to focus on the need to carry out a revision of the Spanish Constitution in female and inclusive language that, in parallel to the recognition and guarantee of parity democracy, makes women visible as autonomous subjects. In addition, it also breaks with the male universality of the language and the monopoly of male language to define the sources of the law, as well as rights, powers, institutions, values and policies.


Ana Marrades
Senior lecturer in Constitutional law, University of Valencia.