corpus linguistics
legal English
Web as corpus
online corpora
legal language
legal translations
technical translations
computational linguistics

How to Cite



Legal language is hallmarked by a pedantic and user-unfriendly jargon whose constructs are all but intuitive, not to mention the legal system specificity which makes it unique in every country. Second language (L2) learners or scholars, hence, may find it difficult to understand the language of the law; whereas translators may consider legal lexical phrases and patterns rather intricate to deal with. The literature claims that a practical way to deepen language knowledge can be found in the Web considered as corpus and in online corpora. This paper is aimed at exploring whether commercial search engines, Web concordancers and online specialised corpora can tackle the issues revolving around legal language. In particular, it will investigate whether Google advanced search and the Leeds Web concordancer  can be used to meet the requirements of legal language learners, scholars and translators. Furthermore, it will address legal language queries (and results) in an online specialised corpus: the COCA. This paper will provide instances of the soundness of the above-mentioned online resources, especially when used jointly as cross-analysis tools. The shortcomings of one can, in fact, be compensated for by the other(s).


Abate, Salvatore Claudio. 1998. Il documento legale anglosassone. [The Anglo-Saxon legal document]. Milan: HOEPLI.

Aston, Guy. 1999. “Corpus use and learning to translate”, Textus, 12 (1999): 289-314. (accessed October 13 2018).

Baroni, Marco, and Silvia Bernardini. 2006. Wacky! Working Papers on the Web as Corpus. Bologna: Gedit. (accessed October 13 2018)

Battelle, John. 2005. The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture. Boston: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Bennet, Gena R. 2010. Using corpora in the langauge learning classroom: corpus linguistics for teachers. Michigan: University of Michigan Press ELT.

Bergh, Gunnar. 2005. “Min(d)ing English language data on the Web. What can Google tell us?”, ICAME Journal, 29: 25-46.

Bhatia, K.L. 2010. Textbook on legal language and legal writing. New Delhi: Universal law publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd.

Biber, Douglas, and Susan Conrad. 1999. “Lexical bundles conversation and academic prose”. In Out of Corpora: Studies in Honour of Stig. Johansson, ed. H. Hasselgard and S. Oksefjell, 181-189. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Carter, Ronald A., and Michael McCarthy, J. 2006. Cambridge Grammar of English, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cobb, Tom. 2004. “The Compleat Lexical Tutor, v.4”, TESL-EJ, 8.3, (accessed October 13 2018)

Coulthard, Malcolm, and Alison Johnson. 2010. The Routledge Handbook of Forensic Linguistics. Abingdon: Routledge.

Curzio, Stefano. 2014. Tutela del patrimonio e Trust. [Assets Custody and Trust]. Santarcangelo di Romagna: Maggioli Editore.

Crystal, David. 2006. Language and the Internet. Second Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Davies, Mark. 2008. “The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA): 520 million words, 1990-present”, Davies Mark, 2008, (accessed October 13, 2018).

Davies, Mark. 2010. “The Corpus of Contemporary American English as the First Reliable Monitor Corpus of English”, Literary and Linguistic Computing, 25, 4: 447-64.

De Groot, Gerard-René, and Conrad Van Laer, J. P. 2008. The Quality of Legal Dictionaries: an assessment. Maastricht: University of Maastricht.

Ferraresi, Adriano. 2009. “Google and beyond: web-as-corpus methodologies for translators”, Revista Tradumàtica, 7, (accessed October 13, 2018).

Fletcher, William H. 2007. “Concordancing the Web. Promise and problems, tools and techniques”. In Corpus linguistics and the Web, ed. M. Hundt, N. Nesselhauf and C. Biewer, 25-46. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Francis, Nelson W., and Henry Kučera. 1982. Frequency analysis of English usage: Lexicon and Grammar. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Gatto, Maristella. 2008. From body to Web: an introduction to Web as corpus. Roma, Laterza.

Gatto, Maristella. 2014. Web as corpus: Theory and Practice. London: Bloomsbury.

Giampieri, Patrizia. 2016a. “A Critical Compartive Analysis of Online Tools for Legal Translations”, The Italian Law Journal, 2.2: 445-461.

Giampieri, Patrizia. 2016b. “Is the European legal English legalese-free?” Italian Journal of Public Law 8.2: 424-440.

Granger, Sylviane. 2013. Learner English on Computer. Abingdon: Routledge.

Greaves, Chris. 2009. Concgram 1.0: a phraseological search engine. CD-ROM. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Kilgarriff, Adam. 2001. “Web as corpus”. In Proceedings of the Corpus Linguistics 2001 Conference, ed. P. Rayson, A. Patrizia Wilson, T. McEnery, A. Hardie and S. Khoja, 342-344. Lancaster University.

Kilgarriff Adam. 2007.“Googleology is bad science”, Association for computational linguistics, 33.1: 147-151.

Laster, Kathy. 2001. Law as Culture. Sydney, The Federation Press.

Leech, Geoffrey. 2005. “Adding Linguistic Annotation”. In Developing Linguistic Corpora: a Guide to Good Practice, ed. M. Wynne, 25-39. Oxford: Oxbrow Books.

Lehecka, Tomas. 2015. “Collocation and colligation”. In Handbook of Pragmatics Online, ed. J.-O. Östman and J. Verschueren, 1-20. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Longinotti, Daniela. 2009. “Problemi specifici della traduzione giuridica: traduzioni di sentenze dal Tedesco e dall'Inglese” [Specific Problems of Legal Translation: Translation of Judgement from German and English]. Quaderni di Palazzo Serra. 17: 1-38. (accessed October 13, 2018)

O'Keeffe, Anne, Michael McCarthy, and Ronald Carter. 2007. From Corpus to Classroom: Language Use and Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

O'Keeffe, Anne, and Michael McCarthy. 2010. The Routledge Handbook of Corpus Linguistics. London: Routledge.

Renouf, Antoinette, and John Sinclair. 1991. “Collocational Frameworks in English”. In English Corpus Linguistics: Studies in Honour of Jan Svartvik, ed. K. Aijmer and B. Altenberg, 128-144. London: Longman.

Römer, Ute. 2005. Progressives, Patterns, Pedagogy: A Corpus-driven Approach to English progressive forms, functions, contexts and didactics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Rosenbach, Anette. 2007. “Exploring constructions on the Web: a case study”. In Corpus Lingusitics and the Web, ed. M. Hundt, N. Nesselhauf and C. Biewer, 167-190. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Rotman, Edgardo. 1995. “The Inherent Problems of Legal Translation: Theoretical Aspects”, Indiana International and Comparative Law Review, 6.1: 187-196.

Scarpa, Federica. 2014. “L’influsso dell’inglese sulle lingue speciali dell’italiano” [The influence of English on Italian special languages], Rivista internazionale di tecnica della traduzione. Trieste: Edizioni Università di Trieste, 16.14: 225-243.

Sharoff, Serge. 2006. “Creating general-purpose corpora using automated search engine queries”. In Wacky! Working Papers on the Web as Corpus, ed. M. Baroni and S. Bernardini, 63-98. Bologna: Gedit.

Sinclair, John. 1991. Corpus Concordance Collocation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sinclair, John. 2003. Reading Concordance: an introduction. London: Longman.

Sinclair, John. 2005. “Corpus and Texts: basic principles”. In Developing Linguistic Corpora: a Guide to Good Practice, ed. M. Wynne, 5-24. Oxford: Oxbrow Books.

Sinclair, John, Susan Jones, and Robert Daley. 2004. English Collocation Studies: The OSTI Report. London: Continuum.

Tiersma, Peter M. 1999. Legal Language. University of Chicago Press.

Tiersma, Peter M. and Lawrence M. Solan. 2012. The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law. New York: Oxford University Press.

Tognini-Bonelli, Elena. 2001. Corpus Linguistics at Work. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) Act 174 of 1962 § 440.2106. Contract, agreement, contract for sale, sale, present sale; definitions of certain terms , web (accessed October 13, 2018)

Williams Christopher. 2004. “Legal English and Plain Language: an introduction”, ESP Across Culture, 1: 111-124.

Williams, Christopher. 2005. “Vagueness in legal texts: is there a future for shall?”. In Vagueness in Normative Texts, ed. N. Gotti, V. Bhatia, J. Engberg and D. Heller, 201-224. Bern: Peter Lang.

Williams, Christopher. 2011. “Legal English and Plain language: an update”, ESP Across Cultures. 8: 139-151.

Williams, Christopher. 2013. “Changes in the verb phrase in legislative language in English”. In The Verb Phrase in English: Investigating Recent Language Change with Corpora, ed. B. Aarts, J. Close, G. Leech and S. Wallis, 353-371. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wilson, James, Anthony Hartley, Serge Sharoff, and Paul Stephenson. 2010. “Advanced corpus solutions for humanities researchers”. In Proceedings of the 24th Pacific Asia Conference on Language, Information and Computation, ed. Ryo Otoguro, Kiyoshi Ishikawa, Hiroshi Umemoto, Kei Yoshimoto and Yasunari Harada, 769-778, (accessed October 13, 2018)

Zanettin Federico. 2012. Translation-Driven Corpora: Corpus Resources for Descriptive and Applied Translation Studies. London: Routledge.

Online Resources

COCA – Corpus of Contemporary American English:

Collins Dictionary:

Google Advanced Search:


When submitting a paper the author agrees to the following publishing agreement and processing personal data.


This is a publication agreement and copyright license (“Agreement”) regarding a written manuscript currently submitted via Pressto platform

 (“Article”) to be published in Comparative Legilinguistics International Journal for Legal Communication (“Journal”).

The parties to this Agreement are:

the Author or Authors of the submitted article (individually, or if more than one author, collectively, “Author”) and Comparative Legilinguistics International Journal for Legal Communication (“Publisher”), address al. Niepodległości 4, 61-874 Poznań, represented by its editor in chief Aleksandra Matulewska.


a)     The Author and the Publisher agree that the Author grants a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which is incorporated herein by reference and is further specified at Creative Commons — Attribution 4.0 International — CC BY 4.0 copyright license in the Article to the general public.

b)     The Author grants to the Publisher a royalty-free, worldwide nonexclusive license to publish, reproduce, display, distribute, translate and use the Article in any form, either separately or as part of a collective work, including but not limited to a nonexclusive license to publish the Article in an issue of the Journal, copy and distribute individual reprints of the Article, authorize reproduction of the entire Article in another publication, and authorize reproduction and distribution of the Article or an abstract thereof by means of computerized retrieval systems (such as Westlaw, Lexis and SSRN). The Author retains ownership of all rights under copyright in the Article, and all rights not expressly granted in this Agreement.

c)     The Author grants to the Publisher the power to assign, sublicense or otherwise transfer any and all licenses expressly granted to the Publisher under this Agreement.

d)     Republication. The Author agrees to require that the Publisher be given credit as the original publisher in any republication of the Article authorized by the Author. If the Publisher authorizes any other party to republish the Article under the terms of paragraphs 1c and 1 of this Agreement, the Publisher shall require such party to ensure that the Author is credited as the Author.


a)     The Author agrees that the Publisher may edit the Article as suitable for publication in the Journal. To the extent that the Publisher’s edits amount to copyrightable works of authorship, the Publisher hereby assigns all right, title, and interest in such edits to the Author.


a)     The Author represents and warrants that to the best of the Author’s knowledge the Article does not defame any person, does not invade the privacy of any person, and does not in any other manner infringe upon the rights of any person. The Author agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Publisher against all such claims.

b)     The Author represents and warrants that the Author has full power and authority to enter into this Agreement and to grant the licenses granted in this Agreement.

c)     The Author represents and warrants that the Article furnished to the Publisher has not been published previously. For purposes of this paragraph, making a copy of the Article accessible over the Internet, including, but not limited to, posting the Article to a database accessible over the Internet, does not constitute prior publication so long as the as such copy indicates that the Article is not in final form, such as by designating such copy to be a “draft,” a “working paper,” or “work-in-progress”. The Author agrees to hold harmless the Publisher, its licensees and distributees, from any claim, action, or proceeding alleging facts that constitute a breach of any warranty enumerated in this paragraph.

§4. TERM

a)     The agreement was concluded for an unspecified time.


a)     The Author agrees and acknowledges that the Author will receive no payment from the Publisher for use of the Article or the licenses granted in this Agreement.

b)     The Publisher agrees and acknowledges that the Publisher will not receive any payment from the Author for publication by the Publisher.


a)     This Agreement supersedes any and all other agreements, either oral or in writing, between the Author and the Publisher with respect to the subject of this Agreement. This Agreement contains all of the warranties and agreements between the parties with respect to the Article, and each party acknowledges that no representations, inducements, promises, or agreements have been made by or on behalf of any party except those warranties and agreements embodied in this Agreement.

b)     In all cases not regulated by this Agreement, legal provisions of Polish Copyright Act and Polish Civil Code shall apply. 

c)     Any disputes arising from the enforcement of obligations connected with this Agreement shall be resolved by a court competent for the headquarters of the Publisher.

d)     Any amendments or additions to the Agreement must be made in writing and signed by authorised representative of both parties, otherwise being ineffective. 

e)      This Agreement is signed electronically and the submission of the article via the PRESSto platform is considered as the conclusion of the Agreement by the Author and the Publisher.

f)     Clause for consent to the processing of personal data - general

g)     The Author shall give his or her consent to the processing of their personal data in accordance with the Act of 10 May 2018 on the protection of personal data and Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of persons physical in connection with the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46 / EC (General Data Protection Regulation) for the purpose and in connection with making publications available on the PRESSto scientific journals platform and DeGruyter platform, guaranteeing the security of services rendered, and improving them.


The Author                             The Publisher



Download data is not yet available.