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Abstract

Fifteen years ago, Joseph Dan reminded us that "there is no 'neutral' linguistic expression, one which does not reflect various layers of cultural and conceptual meanings."' Legal discourse is no exception. "The cultural study of law shows that legal controversies and legal reasoning often reflect underlying cultural perceptions." And how law accounts for, responds to, and is imbued with cultural phenomena is far more important than "mere abstract intellectual exercises"' that the lack of neutral expression may cause in other disciplines. In law, cultural conceptions and common understandings are "embedded in passionate social disputes on which the law of the state pronounces."' So where the language of law is imbued with common terms and concepts, and neutrality is assumed rather than demonstrated, "it is not . . . a harmless affair."'

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