Open Access

Quantitative Distribution of Verbal Structures with Reference to the Authorship Factor in Legal Stylistics


The paper aims at describing the findings and conclusions formulated in the analysis of the authorship factor in legal discourse. It is hypothesised that verbal structures show systemically varied distribution across legal discourse and the relevant distinctions run through the authorship categories. When it comes to the aim of the research it draws on the tradition of sociolinguistic methodology targeting issues related to language variation which follows the basic assumptions of functional grammar. From the point of view of the material covered by the analysis it contributes to the research on legal discourse and specifically on its specialised domain referred to as corporate, company or business discourse. It provides additional empirical data pointing to the non-homogeneity of the legal style and formal distinctions originating from rich contextual background. The study is conducted on the material of a custom-designed corpus of English legal texts, classified as secondary genres.

Methodologically, the study makes use of the tenets of supervised search of digitalised corpora and automatic data extraction based on discrete units, subsequent identification of recurring longer contiguous and/or non-contiguous sequences, if any, built around the axis of specific verbal structures and finally qualitative comparative analysis (characterisation) of the material. The discussion presents sample data and focuses on the most salient categories, both quantitatively and qualitatively. The inductive approach confirms the formal divergencies in the communicative situation covered by the analysis.

The findings encapsulate patterns and tendencies in the quantitative distribution of verbal structures depending on the authorship category. It may be concluded that authorship is a factor delineating distinctions as regards (i) the repertoire of grammatical instruments exploited (verbal structures), which contributes to the specific stylistic profile of given authors. This shows that the thesis posed is verified positively and the study shows further, more detailed distinctions running through groups of subcategories distinguished within the authorship categories specified upon the start of the research.

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Philosophy, other