Reporting Verbs in Court Judgments of the Common Law System: A Corpus-Based Study


Professionals in various disciplines adopt significantly different lexicons to report their discoveries and arguments. Scientists discover, philosophers argue, whereas legal practitioners apply and consider. Reporting, as a ubiquitous linguistic phenomenon, has its disciplinary characteristics. In court judgments, it reflects the way judges identify the evidence of different documents or other courts. In the self-built court judgment corpus, the paper focuses on the way that judicial arguments are constructed through reporting verbs. On the basis of the analysis of the representation and distribution of reporting verbs in court judgments, the study identifies the reporting verbs with high frequencies in court judgments and compares these reporting verbs with those in the comparable reference corpus, written sampler of British National Corpus, which works as a reference corpus. It is found that (1) the tokens of reporting verbs in court judgments are slightly less than those in general texts; (2) the distribution pattern of the speech act verbs and mental verbs in the self-built court judgment corpus is similar to the pattern of two kinds of reporting verbs in the reference corpus; (3) judicial speech act verbs are employed to express the authority of the statements, whereas the judicial mental verbs illustrate the legal reasoning process with individual agents; and (4) there is a significant difference in terms of the reporting verbs’ frequencies within the court judgments and general texts. The results show that the reporting verbs in court judgments have their uniqueness, which may cast light on both judicial and pedagogical practices.

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Appendix (Order of Judgment Date)

Appendix (Order of Judgment Date)

UKSC 2017/0185 UKSC 2017/0151 UKSC 2017/0080 UKSC 2015/0147
UKSC 2017/0127 UKSC 2016/0219 UKSC 2016/0204 UKSC 2016/0082
UKSC 2017/0110 UKSC 2017/0212 UKSC 2016/0214 UKSC 2015/0022
UKSC 2018/0045 UKSC 2017/0097 UKSC 2018/0011 UKSC 2016/0052
UKSC 2017/0096 UKSC 2017/0075 UKSC 2017/0060 UKSC 2016/0130
UKSC 2017/0214 UKSC 2017/0083 UKSC 2017/0016 UKSC 2016/0070
UKSC 2017/0158 UKSC 2016/0197 UKSC 2016/0137 UKSC 2016/0175
UKSC 2017/0072 UKSC 2016/0210 UKSC 2017/0053 UKSC 2016/0188
UKSC 2018/0013 UKSC 2016/0218 UKSC 2016/0159 UKSC 2016/0174
UKSC 2017/0211 UKSC 2016/0107 UKSC 2017/0131 UKSC 2016/0156
UKSC 2017/0124 UKSC 2017/0103 UKSC 2016/0192 UKSC 2017/0025
UKSC 2017/0159 UKSC 2017/0073 UKSC 2016/0185 UKSC 2016/0142
UKSC 2017/0200 UKSC 2017/0070 UKSC 2016/0152 UKSC 2016/0053
UKSC 2017/0058 UKSC 2017/0020 UKSC 2016/0132 UKSC 2015/0215
UKSC 2017/0115 UKSC 2017/0035 UKSC 2016/0170 UKSC 2016/0062
UKSC 2017/0092 UKSC 2016/0144 UKSC 2016/0226 UKSC 2016/0084
UKSC 2016/0223 UKSC 2017/0202 UKSC 2016/0150 UKSC 2015/0177
UKSC 2016/0195 UKSC 2017/0023 UKSC 2016/0111 UKSC 2016/0079
UKSC 2016/0227 UKSC 2016/0121 UKSC 2016/0136 UKSC 2016/0164
UKSC 2018/0167 UKSC 2018/0091 UKSC 2015/0166 UKSC 2016/0213
UKSC 2017/0132 UKSC 2017/0077 UKSC 2016/0148 UKSC 2016/0157
UKSC 2018/0037 UKSC 2017/0003 UKSC 2015/0243 UKSC 2016/0041
UKSC 2017/0141 UKSC 2016/0102 UKSC 2017/0135 UKSC 2015/0199
UKSC 2018/0080 UKSC 2017/0040 UKSC 2016/0166 UKSC 2015/0110
UKSC 2017/0160 UKSC 2017/0037 UKSC 2016/0165 UKSC 2015/0063

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Yu, W. Reporting Verbs in Court Judgments of the Common Law System: A Corpus-Based Study. Int J Semiot Law 34, 525–560 (2021).

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  • Judicial reporting verbs
  • Speech act verbs
  • Mental verbs
  • Court judgments
  • Corpus
  • English for legal purposes (ELP)