The Unknown Stories Behind Familiar Legal Expressions (Yale Law Library Series in Legal History and Reference)
Yale University Press, 9780300172461, 368pp.
Publication Date: November 22, 2011
Not just for lawyers, these illuminating histories of popular law-related expressions will delight anyone fascinated by words, by history, or by law and law enforcement
Law-related words and phrases abound in our everyday language, often without our being aware of their origins or their particular legal significance: boilerplate, jailbait, pound of flesh, rainmaker, the third degree. This insightful and entertaining book reveals the unknown stories behind familiar legal expressions that come from sources as diverse as Shakespeare, vaudeville, and Dr. Seuss. Separate entries for each expression follow no prescribed formula but instead focus on the most interesting, enlightening, and surprising aspects of the words and their evolution. Popular myths and misunderstandings are explored and exploded, and the entries are augmented with historical images and humorous sidebars.
Lively and unexpected, Lawtalk will draw a diverse array of readers with its abundance of linguistic, legal, historical, and cultural information. Those readers should be forewarned: upon finishing one entry, there is an irresistible temptation to turn to another, and yet another . . .
About the Author
Praise For Lawtalk: The Unknown Stories Behind Familiar Legal Expressions (Yale Law Library Series in Legal History and Reference)…
— Bryan A. Garner
— Roger Newman
“This imaginative book will enlighten and amuse not only lawyers, but anyone who thinks about law, talks about law, or has to deal with law—that is to say, all of us,”—Linda Greenhouse, author of Becoming Justice Blackmun
— Linda Greenhouse
"The language of the law is endlessly colorful, sometimes quite literally so: think of blue laws, green cards, blackmail and white-shoe firms. Finally we have an authoritative reference for all these terms and many more, written in a highly engaging style. Even if you're a shyster who couldn't indict a ham sandwich, at least now you'll know where those expressions came from."—Ben Zimmer, executive producer of VisualThesaurus.com and Vocabulary.com.
— Ben Zimmer
“Lawtalk is not just entertaining, but also quite educational. Lawyers, judges, and lay people interested in the workings of the legal system can learn a great deal from it,”—Peter Tiersma, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.
— Peter Tiersma
“Well-researched and entertaining...a skillful mix of scholarship and readability...extensively documented with social, cultural, historic, and, of course, legal sources.”—Joan Pedzich, Library Journal
— Joan Pedzich
— JoAnn Baca
— Glenn C. Altschuler
— Donna M. Fisher
— Spartanburg Herald Journal
“Fun and well-researched.”—Howard Shapiro, Philadelphia Inquirer
— Howard Shapiro
— Washington Lawyer
— Law Actually blog
“[Lawtalk] would be a treasured newcomer to any bookshelf and provides an enlightening insight into the countless pieces of ‘legalese’ to which we are all exposed daily, but have had little reason to question - until now.”—Law Actually
— Law Actually
— John G. Browning
— California Lawyer
— Rebecca Shapiro