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Legal-Lay CommunicationTextual Travels in the Law$
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Chris Heffer, Frances Rock, and John Conley

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199746842

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199746842.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 21 October 2021

Travelling Texts

Travelling Texts

The Legal–Lay Interface in The Highway Code

(p.266) Chapter 13 Travelling Texts
Legal-Lay Communication

Bethan L. Davies

Oxford University Press

Describing it as ‘a curious beast’, Bethan Davies chronicles the textual travels of the Highway Code as it migrates back and forth between the categories of legal document and lay advice manual. The Highway Code is an official document, styled as the ‘rules of the road’ for the British road user, and also contains practical advice about using the road. Davies focuses on the use of modality and ‘vague or flexible language’ – words like ‘possible’ and ‘practical’ – in the text, and how well these and their legal implications are understood by The Highway Code’s different user groups. Some lay users fail to understand how the legal status of rules is indexed linguistically in The Highway Code, and those that do understand its status are often equally unable to find an uncontested reading of a particular rule. Thus, Davies concludes, this is not a text that travels well.

Keywords:   Modality, modals, legal document, advice manual, intertextuality, context, recontextualization, interpretation

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