Introducing the Corpus of Historical English Law Reports: Structure and compilation techniques
Keywords:Law reports, legal English, diachronic corpus, corpus compilation.
The research group Variation, Linguistic Change and Grammaticalization from the University of Santiago de Compostela has been lately working on the compilation of a new specialised corpus of legal English: The Corpus of Historical English Law Reports (CHELAR). The corpus will contain approximately half a million words and cover the years from about 1535 to 1999. The texts included in the corpus are British English law reports: records of judicial decisions that are “cited by lawyers and judges for their use as precedent in subsequent cases” (EBO, n.d.). Except for the legal section of the forthcoming ARCHER corpus version 3.2 (A Representative Corpus of Historical English Registers), none of the existing corpora of English at present includes law reports. This is precisely what makes the CHELAR corpus different from other synchronic and diachronic corpora of legal English. Once completed, the Corpus of Historical English Law Reports will, therefore, constitute a new, useful resource for linguists with an interest in legal language, from both a synchronic and a diachronic perspective.
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