Technical Writing and Linguistic Culture for the Good Functioning of the Public Administration and the Justice system

The basic issue that the project is intended to address is what Luigi Ferrajoli, a disciple of Norberto Bobbio, calls “the disruption of the legal language” and “the malfunctioning of the normative language”. This “disruption”, which has a negative bearing on the public administration and the justice system, is easy to detect in legal sources and contracts as well, since very frequently one can come across expressions that are obsolete, confused, obscure, and even contradictory.

As a consequence of social and political struggles, modern law has seen the progressive widening of the protection granted to the members of the community, both as individuals and as participants in social formations. In light of the contemporary expansion of global connections and the trend toward overcoming territorial borders, from a technical and political standpoint, the need to devise additional and better guarantees is very great.

From this perspective it is of paramount importance to draft legal texts, public and private as well, that are understandable and effective. This process is an instrument of civil progress, aimed at combining the protection of rights with the effectiveness and the transparency of the action performed by public bodies and business entities. In order to reach this goal there is a pressing need to update the legal language, and to infuse transparency into it, through a scholarly effort aimed at comprehending and studying the phenomenon, as well as to pay tribute to the principle of communicative loyalty.

The present project is unique in its original and forceful features, in both the local and international framework. It emphasizes the expertise in a variety of disciplines taught at the University of Pavia. These disciplines merge into research and teaching practices that are extensive in scope, intertwined, and that include different levels of knowledge. First of all, the project calls attention to the two facets of the legal language: the effectiveness of the civil administration (including the proper operation of civil and criminal justice) and the accessibility to the meaning of legal texts, both public and private, as the main features of a modern concept of citizenship.

Both aspects are essential for the good functioning of public institutions, a better development of legal relationships among individuals, and the very same enforcement of rights.

Furthermore, the project emphasizes a few fascinating features of legal documents, their conceptual, cultural, historical and linguistic depth, and their civil function, which is rooted in the socio- cultural reality and its developments.

The renewal of technical writing cannot disregard the analysis of historical, cultural and anthropological phenomena, which are broad and deep, touching upon linguistic, literary, conceptual, ethical, political, psychological, and neurological aspects. The production and interpretation of legal documents acquire particular relevance in the present multilingual and multicultural global context. Today the accessibility of websites and the ease of information retrieval are issues of great importance.

With the themes outlined above, the University of Pavia promotes an extremely original action aimed at fostering the progress of civil society, the enforcement of rights, and the effectiveness and transparency of public management, taking into consideration a subject that has been discussed at length but never addressed from a practical point of view.

From an institutional standpoint, it is the very ideas supporting this project that has made it possible to already establish cooperation with the Italian Senate, with a view to entrusting the University of Pavia with the permanent task of assuring the quality of normative texts and establishing standard patterns for the drafting of legislative texts.

From a historical and cultural standpoint, the project has been endorsed by the Accademia della Crusca, which validates the “calling” of the University of Pavia in supporting actions aimed at acknowledging its extensive patrimony of knowledge with a view to putting it at the service of socially relevant goals. Positive effects on teaching and training activities will be brought about by the organization of multidisciplinary seminars and the establishment of a third-level master’s degree program.