A reference grammar of Ilocano by Carl Ralph Galvez Rubino

By Carl Ralph Galvez Rubino

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It has to be justified by a reason. The reason in the case of the ‘rule of the road’ is obvious; chaos would be disastrous. The parent engaged in the ‘training’ of his child in manners, etiquette or convention is soon made aware from the child’s reiteration of ‘why’, his demand for reasons, that the child understands the essence of what constitutes normativity. Reliance by the parent on ‘the done thing’ form of justification conflates the normal and the normative, leaving the child intellectually dissatisfied.

Against that, for Foucault, discourse rules over the speaking subject. Discourses or ‘discourse formations’ or ‘discursive practices’ are or form patterns of words and phrases. Language is dynamic and has a certain autonomy that it exercises through the formation of discourses. Discourses shape the way in which the social world appears to us, constitutive as they are of identities, relations and beliefs. Foucault posits an intimate link between knowledge and power. Those who have command of discursive practices have social power.

But against that, Goodrich and other antagonists, for their part, could argue that it is just because of its function that the language of law, unlike that of academics, intellectuals or economists, has a special responsibility to be intelligible. The question of whether law written in either plain or ordinary language would be intelligible would logically then confront them. Later in this chapter I put forward some evidence to support a negative answer to the question. In any event, even if the antagonists were to prevail, they would still be faced with the problem that any gain in intelligibility would be achieved at the expense of functionally valuable features of legal language, such as precision and internal consistency.

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