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Author Fredrickson, Kirstin Marie
Title American and Swedish written legal discourse: The case of court documents
Descript 335 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 56-08, Section: A, page: 3103
Chair: John Swales
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Michigan, 1995
Previous studies of written legal language have concentrated on its linguistic features and have not investigated variation in legal usage due to text type (genre) or legal system. This dissertation explores both of these issues, investigating how and why differences in genre, genre system, and legal system affect textual features
The study analyzes documents from 24 appellate cases in the United States and Sweden. The texts studied are the appellant's brief (vadeinlaga), appellee's brief (genmale), and opinion (dom), all analyzed using three methodologies. The first analysis qualitatively examines the texts' linguistic features, comparing them with those of other legal texts. The second analysis delves deeper, using a quantitative methodology with three major components: cognitive, pragmatic, and thematic. The third analysis qualitatively explores the nature of the texts' intertextuality, i.e. their links with other texts. The documents from each case form two simultaneous conversations--a "local" conversation, involving the facts of the case and discussing how the conflict should be resolved, and a broader conversation, dealing with the nature of law and what legal policy ought to be
The results show that the court documents from the two countries share many features, which may be ascribed to trans-national characteristics of the field of law. Despite these similarities, there are consistent differences which reflect the contrasting nature of the legal systems and cultures. For instance, the American texts concentrate on the non-local conversation, placing the case very carefully within the surrounding web of statutes and prior cases. In contrast, the Swedish texts emphasize the local conversation and the outcome of the particular case. In addition to national differences, textual patterns also vary with genre
The genres and legal cultures also interact to form different sets of textual patterns. The differences are traced to inequivalences in the roles of the genres across the legal systems. Thus, variance in textual features may be due to differences in the specific institutional cultures and genre systems the texts are produced in. As such, contrastive researchers need to take account of the influence of institutional cultures
School code: 0127
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 56-08A
Subject Language, Linguistics
Law
Language, General
0290
0398
0679
Alt Author University of Michigan
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