Lexical verb hedging in legal discourse: The case of law journal articles and Supreme Court majority and dissenting opinions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Hedging can play a particularly important role in nuancing language in such language-dependent disciplines as law. This article presents a corpus-based study of the use of epistemic lexical verbs as hedging devices in three written legal genres: The law journal article, the Supreme Court majority opinion and the Supreme Court dissenting opinion. These genres were chosen due to the role they potentially play in international higher education law studies, with the corpus deriving from the legal jurisdiction of the United States. Realization, frequency and function of speculative, quotative, sensorial and deductive lexical verb hedges are compared. Results indicate that patterns of use of epistemic lexical verb hedges can be identified for each genre and can be linked to differing communicative purposes. The article concludes that better understanding of hedging use in different genres can enhance hedging competence, especially hedging interpretation skills.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-31
Number of pages15
JournalEnglish for Specific Purposes
Volume48
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Hedging
  • Legal discourse
  • Corpus linguistics
  • Genre analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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