Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Between conciseness and transparency: Presuppositions in legislative texts


Höfler, Stefan (2014). Between conciseness and transparency: Presuppositions in legislative texts. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, 27(4):627-644.

Abstract

Presuppositionisthesemantic-pragmaticphenomenon whereby a statement contains an implicit precondition that must be taken for granted (presupposed) for that statement to be felicitous. This article discusses the role of presupposition in legislative texts, using examples from Swiss constitutional and administrative law. It illustrates (a) how presuppositions are triggered in these texts and (b) what functions they come to serve, placing special emphasis on their constitutive power. It also demonstrates (c) how legislative drafters can distinguish between “good” presuppositions and “bad” presuppositions by weighing their main advantage, conciseness, against their main flaw, reduced transparency. The present study argues that, if employed carefully, presuppositions can be a useful stylistic means to keep legislative texts free from unnecessary clutter that merely elaborates on the obvious; however, it also suggests that, if applied wrongly, presuppositions can camouflage the duties and obligations placed on the subjects of a law and thus impede its accessibility and its efficient and effective implementation.

Abstract

Presuppositionisthesemantic-pragmaticphenomenon whereby a statement contains an implicit precondition that must be taken for granted (presupposed) for that statement to be felicitous. This article discusses the role of presupposition in legislative texts, using examples from Swiss constitutional and administrative law. It illustrates (a) how presuppositions are triggered in these texts and (b) what functions they come to serve, placing special emphasis on their constitutive power. It also demonstrates (c) how legislative drafters can distinguish between “good” presuppositions and “bad” presuppositions by weighing their main advantage, conciseness, against their main flaw, reduced transparency. The present study argues that, if employed carefully, presuppositions can be a useful stylistic means to keep legislative texts free from unnecessary clutter that merely elaborates on the obvious; however, it also suggests that, if applied wrongly, presuppositions can camouflage the duties and obligations placed on the subjects of a law and thus impede its accessibility and its efficient and effective implementation.

Statistics

Citations

Dimensions.ai Metrics

Altmetrics

Downloads

42 downloads since deposited on 11 Nov 2013
7 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Computational Linguistics
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
410 Linguistics
Language:English
Date:1 December 2014
Deposited On:11 Nov 2013 16:11
Last Modified:01 Dec 2019 01:01
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0952-8059
Funders:Swiss National Science Foundation
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11196-013-9337-6
Official URL:http://www.springerlink.com/openurl.asp?genre=article&id=doi:10.1007/s11196-013-9337-6
Related URLs:http://www.cl.uzh.ch/hoefler (Author)
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project TitleSwiss National Science Foundation

Download

Green Open Access

Download PDF  'Between conciseness and transparency: Presuppositions in legislative texts'.
Preview
Content: Published Version
Language: English
Filetype: PDF (Nationallizenz 142-005)
Size: 201kB