lawless killings

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Hello all !!
There is a report on war crimes in a region mentioning "the continuing practice of lawless killings happening all over the republic and.... the indifference of the republican authorities...."

Now, this may be more of a legal detail but I am currently more interested in the linguistic aspect. Does it not strike you as slightly tautological, if not outright incorrect, to speak of "lawless killings" since "killing" somehow already suggests a lawless act? Do you think it is OK to have these two words go together>
 
  • Fedman3

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Mexico
    Setwale, yes you are right. All killings are lawless.

    In my opinion, the expression implies that the killings take place in a lawless environment where crimes go unpunished.

    Best regards.
     

    Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    I don't think "lawless killings" is at all incorrect simply because some killings, however regrettable, are lawful: killings in self-defense (or to protect others), for example; killings committed by "officers of the law" during a crime are lawful. Now if the writer had spoken of "lawless murders," I would find that to be "slightly tautological, if not outright incorrect."
     
    I don't think "lawless killings" is at all incorrect simply because some killings, however regrettable, are lawful: killings in self-defense (or to protect others), for example; killings committed by "officers of the law" during a crime are lawful. Now if the writer had spoken of "lawless murders," I would find that to be "slightly tautological, if not outright incorrect."
    The point with it being translation from a foreign language, I must confess I am actually wondering whether I should not change "killings" to "murder" in this context...
     

    gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    I have always considered "lawless killings" to be indiscriminate and meaningless killings, and usually involving several, or many victims, as compared, say, to murder or manslaughter of individuals; and often carried out by rogue groups, ostensibly to keep the peace.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    This, I believe it used as a contrast to "legitimate" wartime casualties.

    Combatants that obey the rules of engagement and kill each other would not be considered "lawless".

    However, ignoring the rules of engagement and raping and murdering non-combatants would be considered "lawless".

    This would not be about legal vs. illegal killings in non-wartime situations.
     

    estefanos

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    My thoughts run somewhat in the direction of Packard's.

    I don't read lawless as the opposite of lawful, nor as a synonym of illegal: to me it means something along the lines of uncontrolled.
     
    I pretty much share your point of view, this is how I qualify them as an expert. Yet, when checking the translation, these words caught my attention as sounding slightly awkward, purely to the ear, when used together.
    As somebody mentioned above, this may be linked to the penal tradition of a country, yet, I think, for the English-speaking countries the situation has been such for quite a while that killing has long been perceived in the public mind and language as something by definition lawless.
     
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    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    the continuing practice of lawless killings
    Can there be a "practice of killings"?

    Shouldn't it be "the continuous practice of lawless killing"? This shifts the focus from the results to the action, and (to my mind at least) makes "lawless" a more sensible qualifier.

    (I wonder about "happening" as well; I would think either "continuous practice" or "happening" but probably not both.)
     

    estefanos

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    The words don't strike me as absurd or awkward. The phrase seems to me a simple adjective - noun combination, and nothing more. But I see your point about how they could sound to others. After all, the combination struck you as odd. Perhaps indiscriminate killings would carry the same force and not suffer from the defect you perceive.

    The tone of my message sounds off -- I'm very tired, nothing meant by it.
     
    Can there be a "practice of killings"?

    Shouldn't it be "the continuous practice of lawless killing"? This shifts the focus from the results to the action, and (to my mind at least) makes "lawless" a more sensible qualifier.

    (I wonder about "happening" as well; I would think either "continuous practice" or "happening" but probably not both.)
    I noticed that too...
     
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