The Semantic and Lexical Evolution of “Divorce” Throughout the History of French Legislation

Beatriz Curti-Contessoto, Isabelle Oliveira, Ieda Maria Alves

Abstract


The dissolution of marriage has not always existed in the French legal field since marriages were under the control and influence of the Catholic Church for a long time. It was only in 1792 that the term “divorce” first appeared in French law in order to designate the concept of the “dissolution of civil marriages abstracted from the prerogative of death of one of the spouses and religious issues”. After the introduction of this concept into the French legal context, there were legislative changes regarding different divorce situations over the following years. In the light of these facts, this paper examines the semantic and lexical evolution of the term divorce in the domain of French law, relating this evolution to socio-cultural and historical aspects of France between 1792 (when the divorce was instituted in the country) and 2017 (when the most recent legislative change on the subject occurred). The present study is based on the theoretical and methodological assumptions of Terminology (Cabré, 1999; Barros, 2004; Krieger & Finatto, 2004), particularly on the perspective of Diachronic Terminology (Dury, 1999; Tartier, 2006). Based on the results of this investigation, it is possible to affirm that the evolution of French society has leaded to the transformation of the legal domain that, in turn, has created new concepts that caused the semantic and lexical evolution of the terminology designating types of divorce in France since the eighteenth century.

Cite as: Curti-Contessoto et al., JLL 9 (2020), 48–66, DOI: 10.14762/jll.2020.048


Keywords


divorce, semantic-lexical evolution, legislative changes, France, diachronic terminology

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14762/jll.2020.048

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