Project Title: Comparative Language & Law
Project Description: I’m interested in exploring the sociolinguistics behind the law, and the role of language in the application of the rule of law around the world. The addition, removal, or readjustment of just a single word in a legal code can impact the way a society functions. I want to take several languages as case studies to understand how competing interpretations of written law ignite policy debates and have life-altering outcomes for hundreds, thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people. For example, one can correctly interpret the United States Supreme Court’s highly publicized overruling of Roe v. Wade in 2022 as a dispute over the legality of abortion, but upon closer inspection one finds a linguistic debate at the core of the Dobbs case. The nine Supreme Court justices debated whether or not the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment constitutes a “right to privacy,” which in turn protects a woman’s right to an abortion. The fact that the court’s liberal and conservative “wings” came to such different conclusions in both Roe and Dobbs cases is a prime example of (1) how legal scholars can interpret the same texts quite differently and (2) how textual interpretations change over time as society changes. Thus, the law influences the progression of society, which in turn either reinforces the law or forces it to change.
Most Important Accomplishment: For the moment, I’d say improving my writing skills. But hopefully more to come!
Reflections on the College Scholar Program: As a College Scholar, I love the support and advice I’ve received from fellow members of the program. Talking about big ideas in an interdisciplinary way is fun — and my plans for my own researched project have developed significantly from it. The program’s openness and flexibility also allow me to enroll in courses that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to take, which I greatly appreciate.