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Examining evaluativity in legal discourse : A comparative corpus-linguistic study of thick concepts


Willemsen, Pascale; Baumgartner, Lucien; Frohofer, Severin; Reuter, Kevin (2021). Examining evaluativity in legal discourse : A comparative corpus-linguistic study of thick concepts. PsyArXiv Preprints yxsp9, University of Zurich.

Abstract

How evaluative are legal texts? Do legal scholars and jurists speak a more descriptive or perhaps a more evaluative language? In this paper, we present the results of a corpus study in which we examined the use of evaluative language in both the legal domain as well as public discourse. For this purpose, we created two corpora. Our legal professional corpus is based on court opinions from the U.S. Courts of Appeals. We compared this professional corpus to a public corpus, which is based on blog discussions on the internet forum Reddit. While many linguistic phenomena can give insights into evaluativity, we investigated the use of a wide selection of evaluative adjectives (more specifically, thick adjectives) to gain a more comprehensive picture of the degree of evaluativity in the legal domain. Our analysis shows that legal professionals use thick terms less evaluatively than laypeople, which suggests that legal texts are less evaluative than ordinary discussions. This result, more generally, supports the philosophical idea that thick concepts may vary in their evaluative intensity.

Abstract

How evaluative are legal texts? Do legal scholars and jurists speak a more descriptive or perhaps a more evaluative language? In this paper, we present the results of a corpus study in which we examined the use of evaluative language in both the legal domain as well as public discourse. For this purpose, we created two corpora. Our legal professional corpus is based on court opinions from the U.S. Courts of Appeals. We compared this professional corpus to a public corpus, which is based on blog discussions on the internet forum Reddit. While many linguistic phenomena can give insights into evaluativity, we investigated the use of a wide selection of evaluative adjectives (more specifically, thick adjectives) to gain a more comprehensive picture of the degree of evaluativity in the legal domain. Our analysis shows that legal professionals use thick terms less evaluatively than laypeople, which suggests that legal texts are less evaluative than ordinary discussions. This result, more generally, supports the philosophical idea that thick concepts may vary in their evaluative intensity.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
08 Research Priority Programs > Digital Society Initiative
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
Language:English
Date:2021
Deposited On:28 Oct 2021 15:30
Last Modified:31 Mar 2022 11:15
Series Name:PsyArXiv Preprints
ISSN:0010-9452
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/yxsp9

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