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Linguistic variation and legal representation in legislative discourse: A corpus-based multi-dimensional study

  • Yuxiu Sun and Le Cheng EMAIL logo


This study starts with the multi-dimensional analysis of describing linguistic variation in legislative discourse through three corpora (Chinese legislative corpus, the corresponding English translation corpus and American legislative corpus). Based on the findings from the multi-dimensional data derived from the factor analysis, contrastive interpretations are provided for related legal representations. This study then goes further to apply the corpus-based multi-dimensional analytical approach, deducing total 53 features into 5 interpretable underlying dimensions, represented as: Dimension 1 Involved Production vs. Specialized Information Density; Dimension 2 Narrative vs. Non-Narrative Discourse; Dimension 3 Author-centered Explicitness vs. Situational-dependent Reference; Dimension 4 Overly vs. Not Overly Expression of Persuasion; and Dimension 5 Abstract Description vs. Non-impersonal Style. After the analysis of certain typical patterns among these five dimensions, this study identifies and discusses four legal representations (non-narrative and explicitness, high informational density, the decontextualized style, and less overly persuasion) as key features represented in legislative discourse. Finally, general characteristics, tendencies and preferences identified in the three types of legislative texts are further deduced and interpreted from jurisprudential perspectives.


This publication is supported by the research grant no. 13BYY157, awarded and financed by the National Social Science Fund of China.


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Received: 2017-1-15
Accepted: 2017-4-14
Published Online: 2017-12-12
Published in Print: 2017-12-20

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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