Strictly Speaking Legalese

An SMU law professor never imagined that she would refer to Dr. Seuss, Shakespeare and Vaudeville for legal research, but those sources proved invaluable in producing the book Lawtalk: The Unknown Stories Behind Familiar Legal Expressions  (Yale University Press, 2011). Written by Dedman School of Law Professor Elizabeth Thornburg, along with three other legal scholars, Lawtalk explores the origins and uses of 77 popular law-related expressions such as blue laws, boilerplate, jailbait, pound of flesh and the third degree. “Law pervades U.S. society, and the words and metaphors we use to talk about law give powerful clues about our values and what’s important to Americans as a people,” Thornburg says.

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