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Rethinking Law and Language

The Flagship ‘Speech’

Jan M. Broekman

The ‘law-language-law’ theme is deeply engraved in Occidental culture, more so than contemporary studies on the subject currently illustrate. This insightful book creates awareness of these cultural roots and shows how language and themes in law can be richer than studying a simple mutuality of motives. Rethinking Law and Language unveils today’s problems with the two faces of language: the analogue and the digital, on the basis of which our smart phones and Artificial Intelligence create modern life.
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Chapter 9: The flagship’s wreckage

Jan M. Broekman


Life in language is today a life in conversions. They are related to sometimes old-fashioned legal concepts: in particular, the idea of property comes to the fore. Conversions are also very modern: they depend for instance on deep datafication and sustain the most recent forms of artificial intelligence. IT makes us focus on the protocol: the words in digital context performed by many organizations. Ten key words clarify the two types of linguistic bounds: among them the analog “subject” and the digital “address,” or the “object” and “code,” the “ego” and “sender,” the “you” and “receiver.” They lead to hermeneutics rather than to a dictionary of parallel terms. The latter is impossible, and that is exemplary for the position of this entire book: speech is lost in motion; its endangered features are in saying the language—and saying is a matter of new forms and a new understanding of personal responsibility.

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