Signalling Sites of Contention in Judicial Discourse. An Exploratory Corpus- Based Analysis of Selected Stance Nouns in US Supreme Court Opinions and Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal Judgments
PDF (Język Polski)


judicial discourse
legal justification
US Supreme Court
Constitutional Tribunal

How to Cite

GOŹDŹ-ROSZKOWSKI, S. (2017). Signalling Sites of Contention in Judicial Discourse. An Exploratory Corpus- Based Analysis of Selected Stance Nouns in US Supreme Court Opinions and Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal Judgments. Comparative Legilinguistics, 32, 91–117.


This paper adopts a comparative, corpus-based perspective to examine the language of judicial justification. Based on substantial corpus data, the study explores one of the linguistics resources, i.e. head nouns (e.g. assumption, belief, notion, etc.) followed by a nominal complement in the form of that-clause in two comparable legal settings: the opinions given in the United States Supreme Court and the judgements handed down by Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal. The findings corroborate the results of previous research which shows that nouns found in this pattern are used to perform various discourse functions but evaluation plays a central role in judicial writing and these nouns are used to signal sites of contentions. The study reveals the general similarity between the two sets of data suggesting that American and Polish judicial writing is underpinned by essentially the same epistemological assumptions. Yet, there are some differences in the way the nouns behave phraseologically. Polish nouns tend to show less collocational variation and they are found performing fewer discourse functions.
PDF (Język Polski)


Biber, Douglas, Johansson, S., Leech, Geoffrey, Conrad, Susan, and Finegan, Edward. 1999. The Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. London: Longman.

DiMatteo, Larry. 2015. Legal justification in Anglo-American Common Law. In: Uzasadnienia decyzji stosowania prawa, ed. Iwona Rzucidło-Grochowska and Mateusz Grochowski., 512-524. Warsaw: Wolters Kluwer

Du Bois John. 2007. The stance triangle. In Stancetaking in discourse: subjectivity, evaluation, interaction, ed. Englebretson R.,139– 182. Amsterdam: Philadelphia.

Finegan, Edward. 2010. Corpus linguistics approaches to ‘legal language’: adverbial expression of attitude and emphasis in Supreme Court opinions. In: The Routledge Handbook of Forensic Linguistics, ed M. Coulthard & A. Johnson, 65-77. London & New York: Routledge.

Goźdź-Roszkowski, Stanisław and Hunston, Susan. 2016. Corpora and beyond – investigating evaluation in discourse: introduction to the special issue on corpus approaches to evaluation. Corpora. Vol. 11 No. 2; 131-141

Goźdź-Roszkowski, Stanisław and Gianluca Pontrandolfo. 2013. Evaluative patterns in judicial discourse: a corpus-based phraseological perspective on American and Italian criminal judgments". International Journal of Law, Language and Discourse, vol 13, Issue 2, pp. 9-69.

Goźdź-Roszkowski, Stanisław. (forth.) Between Corpus-based and Corpus-driven Approaches to Textual Recurrence. Exploring Semantic Sequences in Judicial Discourse. In: Patterns in Text. Corpus driven methods and applications, ed. Kopaczyk, J. Tyrkkö, J. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Goźdź-Roszkowski, Stanisław. 2018. Facts in Law. A comparative Study of fact that and its phraseologies in American and Polish judicial discourse. In: Phraseology in Legal and Institutional Settings. A Corpus-based Interdisciplinary Perspective, ed. Goźdź-Roszkowski, S. and G. Pontrandolfo, 143-159. London and New York: Routledge.

Heffer, Chris. 2007. Judgement in Court: Evaluating participants in courtroom discourse. In Language and the Law: International Outlooks, ed. K. Kredens and S. Goźdź-Roszkowski, 145-179. Frankfurt am Mein: Peter Lang GmbH.

Hunston, Susan. and Francis, Gill. 2000. Pattern Grammar: A Corpus-Driven Approach to the Lexical Grammar of English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Hunston, Susan and Geoff Thompson 2000 (eds.) Evaluation in Text. Authorial Stance and the Construction of Discourse. Oxford: OUP.

Królikowski Jakub (2015) „Uzasadnienia orzeczeń Trybunału Konstytucyjnego”. In: Uzasadnienia decyzji stosowania prawa, ed. Iwona Rzucidło-Grochowska & Mateusz Grochowski, 427-439. Warsaw: Wolters Kluwer.

Lee, Debra, Hall, Charles and Marsha Hurley 1999. American Legal English. Using Language in Legal Contexts. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.

Linde-Usiekniewicz, Jadwiga. 2004. Wielki Słownik Polsko-Angielski. Polish English Dictionary. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN and Oxford University Press.

Martin, James and White, Peter. 2005. The Language of Evaluation: Appraisal in English. London: Palgrave.

Mazzi, Davide. 2008. ‘I first have to decide whether there were any notes in the first place. I consider that there probably were: adverbials of stance in equity judges’ argumentation’. Textus XXI: 505-522.

Mazzi, Davide. 2010. ‘This Argument Fails for Two Reasons... A Linguistic Analysis of Judicial Evaluation Strategies in US Supreme Court Judgements’. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law 23 No. 4: 373-385.

Partington, Alan, Alison Duguid and Charlotte Taylor. 2013. Patterns and Meanings in Discourse. Theory and practice in corpus- assisted discourse studies (CADS). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Scott, Mike. 2011. Wordsmith Tools available at

Szczyrbak, Magdalena. 2014. Stancetaking strategies in judicial discourse: evidence from US Supreme Court opinions, Studia Linguistica Universitatis Iagellonicae Cracoviensis 131: 1-30.