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.
|Journal||Language and Law/Linguagem e Direito|
|Early online date||22 Nov 2022|
|Publication status||Published - 23 Nov 2022|
Bibliographical noteCopyright (c) 2022, Lucia Busso. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/].
- Construction Grammar
- Legal lay language
- Quantitative corpus linguistics