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Patterns of Linguistic Variation in American Legal English

A Corpus-Based Study


Stanislaw Gozdz-Roszkowski

Translators, law students or legal professionals who begin to deal with legal language face a bewildering variety of legal writings. Even though legal language has been examined from a multitude of perspectives, there are virtually no studies explicitly addressing variation in legal English in terms of recurrent linguistic patterns. This book is a first step towards filling this gap. It provides a corpus-based linguistic description of variation among several selected legal genres, including vocabulary distribution and use (keywords), extended lexical expressions (lexical bundles), and lexico-syntactic co-occurrence patterns (multidimensional analysis). The findings are interpreted in functional terms in an attempt to provide an overall characterization of the most commonly encountered types of legal language.


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Preface and Acknowledgements 9


PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This book was envisaged as an attempt to look from a new angle at some linguistic aspects of what has been commonly referred to as legal English. Even though legal language has been studied from a multitude of perspectives and by a great number of scholars, I still find certain areas related to the linguistic description of this phenomenon inadequately covered. In particular, there are scarcely any studies explicitly addressing linguistic variation in legal English from the genre perspective and in terms of recurrent linguistic patterns. Thus, this work focuses on the description of variation in legal English in terms of preferred arrangement of lexical items into larger strings of units in individual legal genres. The research presented in this volume was inspired by recent developments in corpus linguistics, especially those exploring the lexis-grammar interface. This book aims to account for some phenomena inherent in legal language in the framework of this relatively recent linguistic approach. The research that led to this volume was facilitated by the Fulbright Scholarship Program in which I participated in 2007 at the University of Northern Arizona, USA. I am grateful to professor Douglas Biber and professor Randi Reppen for their encouragement and support during my stay in Arizona. During the preparation of this volume, some findings were presented to a number of colleagues at different conferences and meetings in Poland and abroad. I am thankful to them for their comments and criticisms. I have been particularly fortunate in having professor Barbara...

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