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Facing the Facts: Evaluative Patterns in English and Italian Judicial Language

By Stanislaw Goźdź-Roszkowski and Gianluca Pontrandolfo


This chapter aims at exploring the pivotal role of evaluative phraseology in the language of a specific law professionals’ community, namely judges (Solan 1993; Philips 1998; Heffer 2007). Judges’ discourses, typified in the legal genre of judgments, represent a fertile ground for the study of evaluation, since they illustrate the reasoning that led them to make a particular decision.\ud Adopting a corpus-based methodology, the study analyses the role of evaluative patterns in a specific judicial genre, namely criminal judgments. This contrastive cross-language study involves a bottom-up approach to evaluation based on the investigation of judgments dealing with criminal cases delivered by the courts of last resort in the United States and Italy: the Supreme Court of the United States and the Italian Corte Suprema di Cassazione. \ud From a methodological point of view, the starting point of the analysis is Hunston’s “N that” pattern (2008: 278-284), a lexico-grammar structure where a noun is followed by an appositive that-clause (e.g. the notion that, the suggestion that, the observation that, etc.). In particular, a case study is presented on the most common “N that” pattern in the corpus, namely fact that (fatto che). This pattern is used as a probe to discover evaluative phraseologies in judicial reasoning and as a means to explore differences and similarities between US and Italian judicial reasoning. The study has revealed strikingly similar phraseological behaviours in the way American and Italian judges formulate their opinions. In addition, a strong tendency towards latent or covert evaluative patterns has been identified

Topics: evaluative patterns, corpus-based study, criminal judgments, fact that, fatto che, semantic polarity
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars publishing
Year: 2014
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