The work of lawyers would be unthinkable without language, argumentation and communication. Yet the research field concerned with the interaction between law and language - legal linguistics – has been relatively unexplored in Danish jurisprudence. Outside Scandinavia the discipline has been well established for decades, and is currently gaining increased acknowledgement in other legal cultures. However, the dominance of the legal thinking of civil law and common law legal systems may be one explanation as to why legal linguistics has a relatively weak position in Danish jurisprudence.
Another explanation is that cooperation across those disciplines that take an interest in the workings of language in law does not occur. Theoretical and methodological approaches are often so specialized that scholars tend to not even know each other. Thus, research is uncoordinated across the disciplines of linguistics, philosophy, rhetoric and communication studies; however, the sharing of knowledge would improve research and allow for diverse perspectives to interact.
By establishing The Legal Linguistics Network RELINE (RELINE, abbreviation for Retslinngvistisk Netværk), the network wanted to remedy the lack of dialogue between disciplines. The network includes not only Danish scholars but also scholars from other parts of the world - jurists, linguists, rhetoricians, and communication scholars, and also philosophers, political scientists and anthropologists.
Our ambition is threefold:
- to create a framework for dialogue between disciplines working in the field of law and language which, due to institutional and disciplinary boundaries, do not usually cooperate.
- to promote the development of a truly interdisciplinary - reasoned and self-reflective - theory and methodology of legal linguistics.
- to strengthen the international profile of Danish research, and at the same time to broaden the perspective of international research in the field so as to reflect also the pragmatic line of thinking, which is characteristic of Scandinavian legal culture.
In 2011 the network was granted foundation from The Ministry of Higher Education in order to establish and consolidate legal linguistics as a research field in Scandinavia. In spite of the fact that RELINE as a specific research project has ended, the network will continue at a minor level. Those members who had already signed up for the RELINE will continue to receive news and updates on future arrangements and events, whereas new members will be able to subscribe to news and updates on future events.