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Corpus Approaches to Legal Phraseology

Corpus linguistics has given fresh impetus to the study of phraseology. In addition to the approaches which have emerged since the introduction of specialised computerised resources (see, among others, Evert 2004; Nesselhauf 2004), the notion of phraseology has expanded to denote “the co-occurrence of a form or a lemma of a lexical item and one more or additional linguistic elements of various kinds which functions as one semantic unit in a clause or sentence and whose frequency of co-occurrence is larger than expected on the basis of chance” (Gries 2008:6). Despite the growing interest in phraseology and its recognised pervasiveness in language (e.g. Granger & Meunier, 2008; Römer & Schulze, 2009), research into phraseological items and patterns in legal discourse remains relatively underexplored (Biel 2014). This perceived gap in legal phraseology research is particularly serious in respect of multilingual, contrastive studies.   From a theoretical perspective, few attempts have been made so far to define the conceptual borders of legal phraseological patterns, with the remarkable exception of Kjær (1990a, 1990b, 2007). From an applied/textual perspective, the existence of recurrent combinations of words in legal language has never been questioned since the very preliminary studies on legal language (see, for example, the early studies on binomial and multinomial expressions: Mellinkoff 1963, 1982; Crystal & Davy 1969; Gustafsson 1975, 1984; Thorntorn 1987; Maley 1987, 1994; Child 1992; Bhatia 1984, 1993; Wagner 2002).However, apart from these preliminary – exclusively monolingual/intralingual (English) – studies, there are few systematic and multilingual investigations focusing on phraseology in legal language.   The existing research in legal phraseology can be classified into four main groups (see Pontrandolfo 2013: 151-166):

Important information

> Important dates for this call:

Extended submission deadline: 25 April 2015

Notification: end of April 2015

> Convenors

Prof. Stanislaw Goźdź-Roszkowski

Dr. Gianluca Pontrandolfo

> Contact for this workshop:


  1. Traditional studies that focus on the lexico-syntactic combinations of words in legal discourse, especially on specialised collocations (see, among others, Berdychowska 1999, Nardon Schmid 2002, Lombardi 2004, Rovere 1999, Nystedt 2000, Cruz Martínez 2002, Giráldez 2007, Anderson 2006, Montenegro Assunção 2007, Biel 2011, Bhatia et al. 2004)
  2. Studies that deal with the formulaic nature of legal language by means of routine formulae used in legal communication (see, among others, Rega 2000, Monzó 2001, Carvalho Fonseca 2007,  Giurizzato 2008, Bukovčan 2009)
  3. Lexicographic investigations aimed at compiling legal dictionaries or glossaries/terminological databases (see, among others, De Groot 1999, François &Grass 1997, Grass 1999, Valero Gisbert 2008, Fernández Bello 2008, Gómez Royo 2010)
  4. Studies that adopt a less rigid notion of phraseology and rely on large collections of legal corpora, used as tools to retrieve co-occurrence patterns, following a distributional approach (see, for example, Mazzi 2009, 2010; Kopaczyk 2013; Goźdź-Roszkowski 2006; 2011; Goźdź-Roszkowski & Pontrandolfo 2013, 2014.)  

Paper submissions

The organisers of this workshop invite papers that present innovative studies addressing empirical/data-driven investigations on phraseological patterns in legal discourse/institutional settings, especially from a corpus-based or -driven perspective. Special emphasis should be placed on contrastive, cross-linguistic perspectives, especially the translation-oriented ones.  

Possible topics include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Monolingual and multilingual studies of legal phraseology;
  2. Data-driven studies on phraseological patterns (e.g. lexical collocations, lexical bundles, routine formulae, doublets and triplets, etc.);
  3. Translation-oriented studies of phraseological patterns;
  4. Phraseology and legal translation;
  5. The relationship between terminology and phraseology in legal discourse;
  6. Translated vs. non-translated legal phraseology;
  7. How phraseology is used to express evaluation, evidentiality and stance;
  8. How phraseological patterns can be used to examine variation in legal genres;
  9. How phraseology can contribute to maintaining generic integrity;
  10. How phraseology contributes to the standardization of professional genres;
  11. Phraseology and professional culture(s);
  12. Lexicographic descriptions of collocations and phraseology

Abstract submission

Please submit an abstract of maximum 300 words via the Easychair system under the Workshop Corpus Approaches to Legal Phraseology by 25 April 2015 (23:59 CET).

Notification of acceptance will be announced by the end of April 2015. 

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