1st Edition

Chinese Law A Language Perspective

By Deborah Cao Copyright 2004

    Studying Chinese law from a linguistic and communicative perspective, this book examines meaning and language in Chinese law. It investigates key notions and concepts of law, the rule of law, and rights and their evolutionary meanings. It examines the linguistic usage and textual features in Chinese legal texts and legal translation, and probes the lawmaking process and the Constitution as speech act and communicative action. Taking a cross-cultural approach, the book applies major Western philosophical thought to Chinese law, in particular the ideas concerning language and communication by such major thinkers as Peirce, Whorf, Gadamer, Habermas, Austin and Searle. The focus of the study is contemporary People's Republic of China; however, the study also traces and links the inherited and introduced cultural and linguistic values and configurations that provide the context in which modern Chinese law operates.

    Contents: Introduction; What the Chinese said about law; Fazhi as rule of/by law; 'Ought to' as a legal performative; Rights talk in Chinese; Chinese law and imprecise language; Doing things with words in the constitution; Chinese lawmaking as a communicative act; Translating law over space and time; Last words; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.


    Deborah Cao is Senior Lecturer at the School of Languages and Linguistics, and also at the Socio-Legal Research Centre, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia.

    'Cao's work is an indepth piece that tackles complex issues...Each chapter gives an interesting analysis and arguments that would appeal to a wide audience...' Law Society Journal '[Cao] investigates the language aspects of Chinese law in ten interesting chapters...It reveals the power of language in the development of the Chinese law.' Monash University Review 'Applying her background in law, linguistics and cross-cultural translation Cao does a solid job in treating this largely un-researched area. Her work is important in approaching the issues related to Chinese legal language uncertainty at both micro- and macro- linguistic levels. This book serves as the pioneering comprehensive effort in the field, and serves to both lay a foundation of research and analysis as well as point out areas that warrant further work.' Sino-Platonic Papers '...an excellent introduction that should benefit both students of Chinese law interested in learning more about socio-legal methodology and those whose work is grounded in Western legal traditions who are interested in comparative study.' China Information