Linguistic and Cross-Cultural Complexities of A Specialized Legal Item: The ‘True And Fair’ Case


  • Annalisa Zanola University of Brescia (Italy) - Department of Economics and Management



Hendiadys, Tautology, True and Fair, Legal English


The use of the terms ‘true’ and ‘fair’ seems to raise old well-known problems regarding rhetoric and law culture. The couple finds its foundations in literary contexts in the 16th century, it becomes a hendiadys in the following centuries, and then it is a codified ‘formula’ in legal context.

A discussion over the need for an interpretation of the terms used by auditors in expressing their opinion appears in the accounting literature. Nevertheless, this does not change the inherent and long-standing vagueness and ambiguity of the undefined expression, ‘true and fair’ view, which has been  used since it was introduced in the 1948 UK Companies Act. The term has a legal origin in the 18th century, and it appears to have been translated into a legal definition concerning corporate accountability in the 20th century.

The aim of our contribution is that of analysing the possible linguistic and cross-cultural contexts where the hendiadys true and fair was born, and exploring the meaning implications of the same ‘formula’ during the centuries. We start from the hypothesis that true and fair is a hendiadys, to show that the two terms take strength and completeness one from the other, so as to generate an only complex meaning, whose original usage was, last but not least,  a literary and poetical one. The analysis of the hendiadys moves from the non-legal to the legal context, following steps of the etymological and lexical research methodology.

Author Biography

  • Annalisa Zanola, University of Brescia (Italy) - Department of Economics and Management
    Annalisa Zanola (PhD) is Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Educational Partnership and International Affairs  for  the  University  of  Brescia  (Italy),  former  Director  of  Centro  Linguistico Interfacoltà (CLI) at the same University, Associate Professor of English Language and Translation at the University of Brescia – Department of economics and Management. Her research interests include   the epistemology of English phonetics and phonology (with particular attention to the suprasegmental features of English) and the most recent trends in Business Communication (International Public Speaking, English as an International Language, International English in Business Communication).


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