Diachronic Approaches and Minority Rights

Diachronic Approaches in Legal Discourse on Minority Rights

Just. Journal of Language Rights and Minorities,
Revista de Drets Lingüístics i Minories

Guest editors:

Talita Serpa & Beatriz Curti-Contessoto


The concept of minorities pertains to social groups facing an inferior status or subordination in comparison to another group identified as the majority or dominant (Deconchy 1985). This subordinate position may arise from various compounding factors such as socioeconomic disparities, legal structures and psychological dynamics making meaning of generational gaps, physical characteristics, language differences, gender distinctions, ethnic classifications, or religious affiliations. Minorities comprise individuals outside the dominant group who exhibit distinct traits in those areas differing from those predominant among the dominant population (Bloed & Dijk 2000).

Legal provisions establish criteria for identifying and embracing minority groups, ensuring proper recognition within each country’s regulatory framework, as Zalazar (2017) and Marko (2003) emphasized. Nonetheless, these norms undergo changes influenced by diachronic elements, reflecting historical contexts shaped by prevailing socio-historical factors during the relevant and preceding years.

The legal practice is inherently shaped by the dynamic interplay between maintaining existing laws—which may be perceived as outdated due to the gap between legislative progress and societal evolution—and introducing new rules—which are novel at their inception. An exploration of legislative texts reveals such legal dynamics, illustrating their capacity to adapt to social transformations and demonstrating a continuous juridification of societies (Teubner 1987) influenced by historical context and contemporary needs. This reflective process bridges the past and the present, wherein the current legal landscape is molded by the dynamic interaction of evolving social, political, and ideological factors, resulting in a non-linear trajectory. The interaction involves domestic and international legal frameworks, where transnational human rights instruments, mechanisms, and institutions safeguard minority rights, providing avenues for redress and accountability mechanisms.

Within this framework, diachronic analyses facilitate the comparative examination of consistent elements—whether terminological, textual, or cultural—across different periods in legal history. Examining how minority rights evolve through legislative texts reveals a continuous adaptation to societal shifts shaped by historical contexts and contemporary values. Interdisciplinary methodologies, particularly within jurilinguistics, enhance legal interpretation by emphasizing the intersections between law and disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, and linguistics. This multidisciplinary approach enriches legal content and discourse analyses, providing a nuanced understanding of minority rights and their legal implications.

Just. Journal of Language Rights and Minorities, Revista de Drets Lingüístics i Minories invites submissions for a special issue on Diachronic Approaches in Legal Discourse on Minority Rights from diverse diachronic approaches that capture the evolving nature of legal discourse with a focus on minority rights across the world. This issue endeavors to cultivate interdisciplinary discourse among scholars spanning various academic disciplines, such as translation and interpreting studies, jurilinguistics, social sciences, political sciences, development studies, and anthropology. The guest editors interpret this dialogue in examining minority rights as crucial to understanding and advancing societal equity and justice. In amalgamating perspectives from diverse academic disciplines, the special issue aspires to enrich our understanding of minority rights, engender critical insights, and foster innovative approaches for advancing social justice and equity within pluralistic societies.

Authors are encouraged to submit their work in English, Spanish, or Catalan on the diachronic aspects of the legal discourse on minority rights. The guest editors are especially interested in multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary studies on topics including but not limited to the following:

  • Diachronic variation of legal terminology pertaining to minority rights;
  • Diachronic aspects of legal translation articulating and serving minority rights;
  • Diachronic perspectives on the biopolitics of language regarding minority rights.


Diachronic terminology and legal terminology in minority rights. In recent years, there has been a growing scholarly interest in studying the historical evolution of linguistic changes (see Dury & Picton 2009; Picton 2011; Rousseau 2021; Dury 2022) in various areas, including the legal domain. Regarding legal terminology, some scholars, such as Peruzzo (2017; 2018; 2019), Laske (2020), and Curti-Contessoto, Barros, and Oliveira (2021), for example, have made specific contributions to the evolution of legal terms and concepts. Nonetheless, a notable gap persists in scholarly discourse about the evolving lexicon within legal documents concerning minority rights across historical periods (e.g., Serpa & Curti-Contessoto 2023). Specifically, this deficiency pertains to exploring diachronic variation in legal terminology aimed at discerning various phenomena associated with temporal evolution, including neology, necrology, and resurgence, as manifested within legal frameworks concerning minority issues.

Diachronic aspects in legal translation. The challenges and strategies inherent in the translation of legal documents have been explored by a variety of scholars (e.g., Šarčević 2000; Monzó-Nebot 2002; Gémar & Kasirer 2005; Zhao & Cao 2013; Frade 2015; Prieto Ramos, Cerutti & Guzmán 2019). These studies delve into the linguistic, cultural, social, and legal hurdles translators confront when navigating legal texts, proposing practical approaches to surmount them. However, a notable deficiency endures in scholarly inquiries focusing on the convergence of legal translation and diachrony, particularly within minority rights. This gap encompasses the complexities of translating diachronic variations across diverse legal frameworks. Moreover, it underscores the need for nuanced exploration into the temporal influences shaping translation practices and the reciprocal relationship between minority history and translation.

A diachronic perspective on the biopolitics of language related to minority rights. Among academic inquiries delving into the historical underpinnings of language, the realm delineated as the biopolitics of language (Cimatti 2017; Wodak & Forchtner 2017)approaches language as a tool of power to regulate and control populations, paying particular attention to how language interacts with techniques such as surveillance, discipline, and normalization. By taking a diachronic perspective, these investigations strive to elucidate the nexus between linguistic evolution and political and governmental frameworks, exerting influence on individuals’ and collectives’ conduct, guiding them toward predefined objectives (Foucault 2004). Noteworthy among studies focused on minority issues are those of King (2020; 2023), which underscore the significance of linguistic analyses within biopolitics for unraveling the intricate intersections among linguistic symbols, identities, and racial categorizations, thereby enhancing analytical frameworks for comprehending individuals belonging to marginalized groups. Nonetheless, scant attention has been directed toward examining the interplay between the historical roots and contemporary expressions of public policies and how they endure or dissipate within social milieus via language.

Based on the three thematic areas described above, the following questions may guide the preparation of contributions for this special issue:

  1. What diachronic phenomena are associated with the evolution of legal terminology in the realm of minority rights?
    1. How has legal terminology concerning minority rights evolved within legal documents?
    2. Are neology, necrology, or resurgence instances prevalent in this context, or does the conceptual evolution typically occur without significant changes to the terminology?
    3. What socio-cultural and political factors shape the evolution of legal terminology about minority rights?


  1. What fundamental diachronic aspects characterize legal translation concerning minority rights within the framework of historical evolution?
    1. What are the primary obstacles when translating diachronic variations in legal texts about minority rights?
    2. What translation principles should be prioritized when considering the diachronic dimensions of legal texts concerning minority rights?
    3. How do contemporary perspectives inform the translation process of historical texts addressing minority rights?


  1. What historical dynamics of the biopolitics of language are intertwined with the promotion and protection of minority rights?
    1. What linguistic mechanisms have historically shaped the biopolitical discourse and realization of minority rights over successive periods?
    2. To what extent does the legal heritage of a nation influence the formulation and implementation of minority rights?
    3. What contemporary biopolitical issues concerning minority rights necessitate scrutiny due to their perpetuation of historical ideologies?


Just. Journal of Language Rights & Minorities, Revista de Drets Lingüístics i Minories is a scientific journal that publishes original articles on the protection, enforcement, and promotion of the rights of linguistic minorities and issues arising from the intersections between language, the social dynamics of domination and oppression, and the law. The journal publishes original scholarly works taking descriptive, critical, empirical, and theoretical approaches from intra- and interdisciplinary perspectives. Interested authors are invited to send 500- to 700-word proposals (excluding references) and inquiries directly to the guest editors: Talita Serpa (talita.serpa@unesp.br) and Beatriz Curti-Contessoto (bfcurti@gmail.com) by 1 August 2024. Please include a brief 150-word note about the authors, their affiliations, and contact details in a separate file. All abstracts and manuscripts should follow Just’s author guidelines (https://ojs.uv.es/index.php/JUST/about/submissions) and the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) for any other issues related to citation and drafting (https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide/citation-guide-2.html). Authors of abstracts accepted for consideration will be invited to submit a full manuscript between 6,000 and 8,000 words (excluding abstract and references but including footnotes). Every manuscript will be forwarded to a double-anonymized peer review with at least two referees.


The publication of this special issue will adhere to the following editorial timeline:

Abstracts (500-700 words) due to guest editors

1 August 2024

Decision on abstracts

1 October 2024

Submission of full manuscripts

1 February 2025

Final versions of papers

1 October 2025

Decision to authors

15 January 2026

Publication of special issue

23 April 2026




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