An investigation of the lexico-grammatical profile of English legal- lay language


The article presents a study on the lexico-grammar of the genre ofEnglish legal-lay language (Tiersma 1999), using the English subcorpus of theCorIELLS corpus (Busso forthcoming). The study explores four grammaticalconstructions (in Goldberg 2006’s Construction Grammar sense): nominalisationsheading prepositional phrase attachments, modal verb constructions, participialreduced relative constructions, and passive constructions. Specifically, we usecollostructional analysis (Stefanowitsch 2013), followed by a vocabulary analysisusing English core vocabulary as a reference (Brezina and Gablasova 2015), anda comparative frequency analysis with corpora of legal language and general-domain written prose. Results of this first part of the study foreground how legal-lay language is quantitatively different from both neighbouring genres, suggestingthat it might be considered a “blended” genre. We further explore the data in termsof accessibility for speakers, using readability metrics and a survey on Englishparticipants. Both methods show that legal-lay language is at an intermediatelevel of complexity between legal jargon and general-domain prose; however, wefurther note that readability metrics generally underestimate speakers’ ability tocomprehend legal-lay language.

Publication DOI: 0.21747/21833745/lanlaw/9_1a7
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities
College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics
Additional Information: Copyright (c) 2022, Lucia Busso. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License [].
Uncontrolled Keywords: Construction Grammar,Legal lay language,Italian,English,Quantitative corpus linguistics
Publication ISSN: 2183-3745
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2024 07:30
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2022 10:12
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Related URLs: https://ojs.let ... icle/view/12830 (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2022-11-23
Published Online Date: 2022-11-22
Accepted Date: 2022-04-01
Authors: Busso, Lucia (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-5665-771X)



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial

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