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A Lexico-Semantic Description of the Language of Contractual Agreement

Adesanmi, Moses Ademola & Idakwo, Ocholi Victor, Volume 1 Issue 2, December 2020 Pages 96-103, Published: 2020-12-25


Contractual agreements are common forms of legal documents that should be taken seriously in daily human dealings. Several unsuspecting people enter into agreements without paying close attention to certain salient terms which may have serious legal consequences once breached. This is perhaps because such contract documents are drafted with the convention of legal expression different from ordinary use of language. This work is an exploration and a lexical and semantic analysis of the language of selected contractual agreements. It is anchored on Systemic Functional Linguistics to investigate the lexical and semantic features of landed and hire purchase contracts. Ten contract documents from four private law firms were randomly selected and examined. The results show that hire purchase and landed property contracts are replete with unconventional capitalization, modals, conditionals, archaic terms and passive constructions. Also preponderant are lengthy and complex sentences. Landed and hire purchase contracts are abstract, cumbersome and impersonal in nature. Language therefore becomes highly influenced with its modals and conditionals that showcase hypothetical situations introduced by lexical items such as if, shall, unless, in case and in the event that which are usually embedded in a single sentence and perhaps inserted with phrases within the clause. To this end, the paper concludes that parties in legal contracts should always be wary of salient and prominent linguistic features that may cause future litigations in the case of a breach