Are law reports an 'agile' or an 'uptight' register? Tracking patterns of historical change in the use of colloquial and complexity features

Douglas E Biber, Bethany Gray

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Language change is a natural evolutionary process, and as a result it is reasonable to expect that all registers will undergo historical change to some extent. While some registers adopt linguistic innovations readily, others resist such changes and exhibit more conservative patterns of change. This chapter considers the extent to which law reports have adopted linguistic innovations observed in other written registers (fiction, newspapers, and science prose). The analysis considers features related to two competing factors influencing historical change in written texts: popularization (the adoption of colloquial features associated with the need to write texts for a large and general population of readers) and economy (increases in the use of phrasal complexity features to create informationally-dense texts for specialist readers). The analysis shows that compared to other written registers, law reports have been relatively conservative and resistant to historical change. These results are interpreted relative to the situational and communicative characteristics of law reports.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCorpus-based Research on Variation in English Legal Discourse
EditorsTeresa Fanego, Paula Rodriguez-Puente
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Pages149-169
Number of pages21
Volume91
ISBN (Electronic)9789027202352
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Fingerprint

colloquial
Linguistics
Innovation
Law
innovation
linguistics
language change
popularization
newspaper
economy
science
Historical Change
Reader

Keywords

  • Economy
  • Language change
  • Legal discourse
  • Popularization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Education
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

Cite this

Biber, D. E., & Gray, B. (2019). Are law reports an 'agile' or an 'uptight' register? Tracking patterns of historical change in the use of colloquial and complexity features. In T. Fanego, & P. Rodriguez-Puente (Eds.), Corpus-based Research on Variation in English Legal Discourse (Vol. 91, pp. 149-169). John Benjamins Publishing Company. https://doi.org/10.1075/scl.91.07bib

Are law reports an 'agile' or an 'uptight' register? Tracking patterns of historical change in the use of colloquial and complexity features. / Biber, Douglas E; Gray, Bethany.

Corpus-based Research on Variation in English Legal Discourse. ed. / Teresa Fanego; Paula Rodriguez-Puente. Vol. 91 John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2019. p. 149-169.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Biber, DE & Gray, B 2019, Are law reports an 'agile' or an 'uptight' register? Tracking patterns of historical change in the use of colloquial and complexity features. in T Fanego & P Rodriguez-Puente (eds), Corpus-based Research on Variation in English Legal Discourse. vol. 91, John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 149-169. https://doi.org/10.1075/scl.91.07bib
Biber DE, Gray B. Are law reports an 'agile' or an 'uptight' register? Tracking patterns of historical change in the use of colloquial and complexity features. In Fanego T, Rodriguez-Puente P, editors, Corpus-based Research on Variation in English Legal Discourse. Vol. 91. John Benjamins Publishing Company. 2019. p. 149-169 https://doi.org/10.1075/scl.91.07bib
Biber, Douglas E ; Gray, Bethany. / Are law reports an 'agile' or an 'uptight' register? Tracking patterns of historical change in the use of colloquial and complexity features. Corpus-based Research on Variation in English Legal Discourse. editor / Teresa Fanego ; Paula Rodriguez-Puente. Vol. 91 John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2019. pp. 149-169
@inbook{9f482b5f54a548e6a0bef49afb8c43df,
title = "Are law reports an 'agile' or an 'uptight' register?: Tracking patterns of historical change in the use of colloquial and complexity features",
abstract = "Language change is a natural evolutionary process, and as a result it is reasonable to expect that all registers will undergo historical change to some extent. While some registers adopt linguistic innovations readily, others resist such changes and exhibit more conservative patterns of change. This chapter considers the extent to which law reports have adopted linguistic innovations observed in other written registers (fiction, newspapers, and science prose). The analysis considers features related to two competing factors influencing historical change in written texts: popularization (the adoption of colloquial features associated with the need to write texts for a large and general population of readers) and economy (increases in the use of phrasal complexity features to create informationally-dense texts for specialist readers). The analysis shows that compared to other written registers, law reports have been relatively conservative and resistant to historical change. These results are interpreted relative to the situational and communicative characteristics of law reports.",
keywords = "Economy, Language change, Legal discourse, Popularization",
author = "Biber, {Douglas E} and Bethany Gray",
year = "2019",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1075/scl.91.07bib",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "91",
pages = "149--169",
editor = "Teresa Fanego and Paula Rodriguez-Puente",
booktitle = "Corpus-based Research on Variation in English Legal Discourse",
publisher = "John Benjamins Publishing Company",
address = "Netherlands",

}

TY - CHAP

T1 - Are law reports an 'agile' or an 'uptight' register?

T2 - Tracking patterns of historical change in the use of colloquial and complexity features

AU - Biber, Douglas E

AU - Gray, Bethany

PY - 2019/1/1

Y1 - 2019/1/1

N2 - Language change is a natural evolutionary process, and as a result it is reasonable to expect that all registers will undergo historical change to some extent. While some registers adopt linguistic innovations readily, others resist such changes and exhibit more conservative patterns of change. This chapter considers the extent to which law reports have adopted linguistic innovations observed in other written registers (fiction, newspapers, and science prose). The analysis considers features related to two competing factors influencing historical change in written texts: popularization (the adoption of colloquial features associated with the need to write texts for a large and general population of readers) and economy (increases in the use of phrasal complexity features to create informationally-dense texts for specialist readers). The analysis shows that compared to other written registers, law reports have been relatively conservative and resistant to historical change. These results are interpreted relative to the situational and communicative characteristics of law reports.

AB - Language change is a natural evolutionary process, and as a result it is reasonable to expect that all registers will undergo historical change to some extent. While some registers adopt linguistic innovations readily, others resist such changes and exhibit more conservative patterns of change. This chapter considers the extent to which law reports have adopted linguistic innovations observed in other written registers (fiction, newspapers, and science prose). The analysis considers features related to two competing factors influencing historical change in written texts: popularization (the adoption of colloquial features associated with the need to write texts for a large and general population of readers) and economy (increases in the use of phrasal complexity features to create informationally-dense texts for specialist readers). The analysis shows that compared to other written registers, law reports have been relatively conservative and resistant to historical change. These results are interpreted relative to the situational and communicative characteristics of law reports.

KW - Economy

KW - Language change

KW - Legal discourse

KW - Popularization

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85060649126&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85060649126&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1075/scl.91.07bib

DO - 10.1075/scl.91.07bib

M3 - Chapter

AN - SCOPUS:85060649126

VL - 91

SP - 149

EP - 169

BT - Corpus-based Research on Variation in English Legal Discourse

A2 - Fanego, Teresa

A2 - Rodriguez-Puente, Paula

PB - John Benjamins Publishing Company

ER -