Text-patterning in legal texts

ERI Building - G51 (Ground Floor)
Arts and Law, Research
Thursday 31st March 2016 (15:15-16:30)
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Photograph of Dr Alex Trklja

  • Centre for Corpus Research Open Research Seminar

Speaker: Dr Alex Trklja, University of Birmingham

Venue: ERI Building, Room G51

Although it has often been remarked that legal texts are formulaic (e.g. Mattila, 2006; Gotti, 2012), studies that investigate this issue empirically, or focus on functions of repetitive expressions are still few in number (e.g. Gozdz-Roszkowski, 2012; Biel, 2014). This talk reports on a corpus investigation of judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). That analysis investigates in particular: the degree of formulaicity in CJEU judgments as compared to national Supreme/Consitutional Court judgments; textual colligation in CJEU judgments and the principal metadiscursive functions of the most typical recurrent paragraph-­‐initial multi-­‐word units (Hyland, 20015); the signalling of typical textual patterns in CJEU judgments by metadiscoursive items (Hoey, 2001).

The study has been conducted as part of the European Research Council-­‐funded project ‘Law and Language at the European Court of Justice’ (LLECJ - see www.llecj.karenmcauliffe.com). The analysis in the corpus investigation set out in this talk allows us argue that formulaicity is not an accidental feature of CJEU judgments but a constitutive force that has an impact on the form and content of EU case law and serves as a source of routinized thinking (Koestler, 1964) in EU case law.


  • Biel, Ł. 2014. Lost in the Eurofog: The Textual Fit of Translated Law. Frankfurt am Mein: Peter Lang
  • Gotti, M. 2012. ‘Text And Genre’. In: Tiersma, P. and Solan, L. (eds.) The Oxford handbook of language and law, 52-66. Oxford University Press, Oxford
  • Gozdz-Roszkowski, S. 2012. Patterns of linguistic variation in American legal English: A corpus-based study. Frankfurt am Mein: Peter Lang
  • Hoey, M. 2001. Textual interaction: An introduction to written discourse analysis. London: Routledge
  • Hyland, K. 2005. Metadiscourse: Exploring interaction in writing. London: Continuum
  • Koestler, A. 1964. The Act of Creation. New York: Penguin Books
  • Mattila, H. E. 2006. Comparative legal linguistics. Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate Publishing Limited