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Corpus Approaches to Legal Phraseology


Thursday, 9 July 2015

09:00-09:30 Welcome and Intro (Stanisław Goźdź-Roszkowski  & Gianluca Pontrandolfo)

09:30-10:30 morning session 1

  • Raphael Salkie: Facing the facts in English and German
  • Ondřej Klabal: Time is of the essence: temporal expressions in legal Czech and English

10:30-11:00 coffee break 

11:00-12:30 morning session 2

  • Katja Dobric Basaneze: Extending Binomial Expressions in Legal Agreements
  • Llio Humphreys, Guido Boella, Loredana Cupi, Luigi di Caro, Sepideh Ghanavati, Robert Muthuri, Livio Robaldo and Leendert van der Torre: Extracting Norms for Ontology Population using Legal Phrases and Semantic Role Labelling
  • Stanislaw Gozdz-Roszkowski: Stance, Status and Semantic Sequences. Towards a New Type of Phraseological Description of Legal Genres 

12:30-14:00 lunch 

14:00-15:30 afternoon session 1 

  • Aleksandar Trklja: Textual patterning, lexical and semantic repetition in legal cases
  • Andreea Macovei, Diana Trandabăț and Dan Cristea: How to make Romanian legal texts easier to understand?
  • Ljubica Leone: Phraseological Variation in “legal-lay discourse”: Phrasal verbs in Late Modern English

15:30-16:00 coffee break 

16:00-17:30 afternoon session 2

  • Q & A Session + Rountable Discussion

Important information

> Conveners:

Prof. Stanislaw Goźdź-Roszkowski

Dr. Gianluca Pontrandolfo

> Contact for this workshop:


Aim and scope

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):

  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.)  


Prof. Stanislaw Goźdź-Roszkowski works in the Department of Translation Studies, University of Łódź where he lectures in specialised translation, international legal language and corpus-assisted discourse studies. His current research focuses on two areas: (1) the contribution of corpus linguistics to the study of legal language, esp. terminology and phraseology, variation across legal discourse and (2) contrastive discourse analysis, in particular, the study of evaluation across different professional genres and cultures. He has published widely in the area of legal phraseology.



Dr. Gianluca Pontrandolfo is currently a Research and Teaching Assistant at the University of Trieste (IUSLIT, Department of Legal Language, Interpreting and Translation Studies) where he lectures on general and specialised translation from Spanish into Italian. He combines his activity as free-lance translator with his academic and research projects. His research activity focuses on translation-oriented legal terminology and phraseology, from a contrastive (Spanish, Italian, English) and corpus perspective. In line with his PhD thesis, which deals with a quali-quantitative study of legal phraseology in a trilingual corpus of criminal judgments (COSPE), his publications focus on the relationship between language and law. His research interests also include textual analysis applied to translation, translator training, corpus linguistics and specialised genre studies. He has been deeply involved in an important research project consisting in the translation of the Italian Code of Criminal Procedure (published by Cedam/Wolters Kluwer in 2014), being one of the two translators into English of the legal text as well as the phraseological expert of the project. He is also member of the CERLIS (Research Centre on Languages for Specific Purposes) of the University of Bergamo (Italy).



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