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23 Case Western Reserve Law Review 353 (1972)


Every communication that is generated by a written instrument consists of two elements which must be considered in arriving at the meaning of the communication. Those elements are: (1) the written vehicle itself, and (2) its surrounding context. The surrounding context which thus completes the communication consists only of those underlying cultural aspects which, when considered in relation to the written vehicle, are: (1) relevant to the written vehicle, (2) reliable, (3) shared by the author and the audience, and (4) relied on by both author and audience to complete the communication. The author suggests that those cultural elements which at first appear to be part of the context of a statute, but which do not meet the listed criteria, are not properly part of the context to which a court may look in its cognitive function of interpreting statutes.