Old English law-codes
A synchronic-diachronic genre study
Law language is a cover-term for different genres of legal texts. The genre of law is characterized as being written, legislative and formal. Quantitative studies on the textual and linguistic structure of Old English (oe) law-codes are lacking so far, but both aspects are analysed in this paper on the basis of a corpus of about 20,000 words. The results of the quantitative-qualitative analysis are compared to oe wills on the one hand, and to Early Modern English (emode) and Present-Day English (pde) statutes on the other. The synchronic comparison of oe law-codes and oe wills reveals that the text structure and the linguistic profile of the genres are very similar. The conclusion to be drawn from this result is that genre properties largely determine the textual and linguistic profile of texts in a given period. The diachronic comparisons show marked differences in the linguistic profile of oe law-codes and statutes of later periods.
Keywords: legal language, Old English law-codes, Old English wills, Present-Day English statutes, qualitative interpretation, quantitative analysis
Published online: 28 August 2020
Attenborough, Frederick L.
Bhatia, Vijay K.
Bhatia, Vijay K., Nicola M. Langton and Jane Lung
Charrow, Veda, Jo Ann Crandall and Robert Charrow
Danet, Brenda and Bryna Bogoch
Fanego, Teresa, Paula Rodríguez-Puente, María José López-Couso, Belén Méndez-Naya, Paloma Núñez-Pertejo, Cristina Blanco-García and Iván Tamaredo
2001 “’Some Syntactic Properties of English Law Language’: Twenty-five Years after Gustafsson (1975)”. In Risto Hiltunen, Keith Battarbee, Matti Peikola and Sanna-Kaisa Tanskanen (eds), English in Zigs and Zags: A Festschrift for Marita Gustafsson, 53–66. Anglicana Turkuensia 23. Turku: University of Turku.
Schwyter, Jürg R.
Scotto di Carlo, Giuseppina
Sheehan, Michael M.
2004 “Pragmatic and Cross-Cultural Considerations in Translating Verbal Constructions in Prescriptive Legal Texts in English and Italian”. In Christopher N. Candlin and Maurizio Gotti (eds), Intercultural Discourse in Domain-Specific English, special issue of Textus 17 (1): 217–46. Bern: Peter Lang.