By И. А. Ричардс, Кристина М. Гибсон

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But pragmatic experience tells us that it is unusual for a state authority to take disciplinary action against a law enforcement official for not complying with the code except in cases of gross violation, which would seem to suggest that the provision in practice may only have directory force. Other instances of a directory provision expressing a requirement as opposed to a command are more self-evident. 32 Once again, as with legal requirements, prohibitions with directory force are more likely to be found in administrative regulations.

Moreover, both Latin and French also held prestige value in their usage (Barleben 2003b), with the result that the language of the law in English continued to borrow hundreds of terms and expressions from these languages, and the legal use of French was not officially abandoned in England until 1731. This fact also helps to account for the special lexical mixture that typifies legal English today, with Old and Middle English words surviving through the centuries, such as aforesaid or forthwith, together with Latinisms such as habeas corpus or terms of French origin such as plaintiff or appeal.

The function of the performative verb is to name the illocutionary act being performed. According to Kurzon (1986: 1), within the speech act theory “the legal performative is considered the most straightforward, trouble-free example of the performative utterance, and the performative utterance is in turn the most straightforward class of speech acts”. My view is that the question of performatives in legal language is a little more complex than Kurzon asserts. We must first distinguish between explicit performative clauses and implicit performative clauses.

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