legal discourse
legal language
legal texts
specific features

How to Cite

BERŪKŠTIENĖ, D. (2016). LEGAL DISCOURSE RECONSIDERED: GENRES OF LEGAL TEXTS. Comparative Legilinguistics, 28, 89–119.


Being a complex type of discourse, legal discourse is realized through legal texts written in legal language, which are regarded as special-purpose texts different from other kinds of texts in respect of their text-internal and text-external properties. A great variety of legal texts reflects the diversity of law itself. As different legal texts tend to have different functional, structural and linguistic features, they are classified into genres on the basis of different criteria. The analysis of genres of legal texts contributes to the overall understanding and construction of legal discourse in general and legal texts in particular. This paper aims at the overview and discussion of genres of legal texts focusing on specific features of legal texts and criteria of the classification of legal texts into genres.


Akelaitis, Gintautas. 2012. Jungtukai ar, arba teisės kalbos sintaksinėse konstrukcijose. Specialybės kalba: gramatika ir logika. Vilnius: Mykolo Romerio universitetas.

Asensio, M. Roberto. 2003. Translating Official Documents. (Translation Practices Explained). London: Routledge.

Balazs, Melinda. 2014. Legal Translation as an Interspace of Language and Law. (accessed 24 September 2016).

Bhatia, K. Vijay. 1987. Language of the Law. Language Teaching, 20, 4, 227-235.

Bhatia, K. Vijay. 1993. Analysing Genre: Language Use in Professional Settings. London: Longman.

Bhatia, K. Vijay. 1996. Methodological Issues in Genre Analysis. In Hermes 16. 39-60.

Bhatia, K. Vijay. 1997. Translating Legal Genres. In Sud. Trosborg A. Text Typology in Translation. Amstredam: John Benjamins Publishing, 203-216.

Bhatia, K. Vijay. 2002. Applied Genre Analysis: A Multi-Perspective Model. Ibérica, 4, 3-19.

Bhatia, K. Vijay. 2004. Worlds of Written Discourse: A Genre-Based View. London: MPG Books Ltd.

Biber, Douglas. 1988. Variation Across Speech and Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Biber, Douglas, and Susan Conrad. 2009. Register, genre and style. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Biel, Łucja, and Jan Engberg. 2013. Research Models and Methods in Legal Translation. http:// (accessed September 10, 2016).

Biel, Łucja. 2014. Areas of Similarity and Difference in Legal Phraseology: Collocations of Key Terms in UK and Polish Company Law. (accessed September 10, 2016).

Bosiacka, A. Jopek. 2013. Comparative Law and Equivalence Assessment of System-Bound Terms in EU Legal Translation. In Linguistica Antverpiensia, 12, 110-146.

Cao, Deborah. 2007. Translating Law. New York: Multilingual Matters.

Couture, Barbara. 1986. Effective Ideation in Written Text: a Functional Approach to Clarity and Exigence. B. Couture (ed.), Functional Approaches to Writing: Research Perspectives, 69-91.

Cozma, Mihaela. 2010. Semantic Peculiarities in the Legal Discourse: a Translation-Oriented Approach. In Professional Communication and Translation Studies, 3 (1-2), 61-66.

Crystal, Davy, and Derek Davy, D. 1969. Investigating English Style. New York: Longman.

Čėsnienė, Žaneta. 2014. Lexical Units Impeding the Perception of Legalese in the Contexts of Plain Language Principles. In Res Humanitariae XVI, 37-53.

Danet, Brenda. 1985. Legal Discourse. T. A. Dijk. Handbook of Discourse Analysis. London: Academic Press, 134-152.

Depraetere, Ilse. 2011. Perspective on Translation Quality. Berlin: De Gruyter GmbH &Co.

Duran, M. Estrella. 2010. Discourse, Grammar and Professional Discourse Analysis: The Function of Conditional Structures in Legal Writing. Ed. Giammoni, S.D., Frade, C. 2010. Reasearching Language and the Law: Textual Features and Translation Issues. Bern: International Academic Publishers.

Gibbons, John, ed. 1994. Language and the Law. London and New York: Longman.

Gracia, J. E. Jorge. 1995. A Theory of Textuality. The Logic and Epistemology. New York: State University of New York Press.

Goodrich, Peter. 1992. Legal Discourse. Houndmills: Macmillan.

Gozdz-Roszkowski, Stanislaw. 2011. Patterns of Linguistic Variation in American Legal English: A Corpus-Based Study. Bern: Peter Lang.

Gozdz-Roszkowski, Stanislaw. 2013. Exploring Near-Synonymous Terms in Legal Language. A Corpus-Based, Phraseological Perspective. Linguistica Antverpiensia, 12. (accessed December 1, 2016).

Gustaffson, Marita. 1975. Some Syntactic Properties of English Law Language. Turku, Finland: Department of English, University of Turku.

Gustaffson, Marita. 1984. The Syntactic Features of Binominal Expressions in Legal English. Text - Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of Discourse, 4 (1-3), 123-141.

Halliday, Michael, and Ruqaiya Hasan. 1990. Language, Context, and Text: Aspects of Language is a Social-Semiotic Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hatim, Basil, and Ian Mason. 1997. The Translator as Communicator. London: Routledge.

Janigova, Slavka. 2008. Syntax of –ing Forms in Legal English. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang GmbH.

Janulevičienė, Violeta, and Sigita Rackevičienė. 2014. Formation of criminal law terms in English, Lithuanian and Norwegian. LSP Journal, 5 (1). (accessed September 27, 2016).

Kniūkšta, Pranas. 2005. Administracinė kalba ir jos vartosena. Vilnius: Lietuvių kalbos institutas.

Lee, David. 2001. Genres, Registers, Text Types, Domains, and Styles: Clarifying the Concepts and Navigating a Path through the BNC Jungle. Language Learning and Technology, 5 (3), 37-72.

Lehrberger, John. 1986. Sublanguage Analysis. Grishman, R., and Kittredge, R., Analyzing Language in Restricted Domains: Sublanguage Description and Processing. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates: 19-38.

Lisina, Natalia. 2013. Stylistic Features of Legal Discourse. A Comparative Study of English and Norwegian Legal Vocabulary. Thesis. Oslo: University of Oslo.

Macko, Daiva. 2012. The Use of Software Analysis of Lexical Properties of Legal Discourse. In Kalbų studijos, 20, 18-26.

Maley, Yon. 1994. The Language of the Law. In ed. Gibbons J. Language and The Law. London: Longman, 11-50.

Marcinkevičienė, Rūta. 2004. Spaudos žanrų tipologija. Vakarietiškoji patirtis. Darbai ir dienos, 38, 191-234.

Marcinkevičienė, Rūta. 2007. Spaudos tekstų žanrai. Kaunas: Vytauto Didžiojo universitetas.

Mattila, E. S. Heikki. 2013. Comparative Legal Lingusitics. Language of Law, Latin and Modern Lingua Francas. Ashgate Publishing Limited.

Mažeikienė, Viktorija. 2012. Grammatical Equivalence in Translation and Translation Shifts in English-Lithuanian Translations of Official Texts. Specialybės kalba: gramatika ir logika. Vilnius: Mykolo Romerio universitetas.

Mockienė, Liudmila, and Sigita Rackevičienė. 2015. Sources of One-Word Terms Used in UK and Lithuanian Constitutional Law Acts. Taikomoji kalbotyra, 7. (accessed October 12, 2016).

Newmark, Peter. 1982. Approaches to Translation. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Newmark, Peter. 1988. A Textbook of Translation. London: Prentice Hal.

Neumann, K. Richard. 1998. Legal Reasoning and Legal Writing: Structure, Strategy and Style. Aspen Law and Business.

Nielsen, Sandro. 2010. Translational Creativity: Translating Cenre Conventions in Statutes. Vertimo studijos, 3, 23-35.

Paulauskienė, Aldona. 2004. Teisininkų kalba ir bendrosios normos. Vilnius: Justicija.

Pearson, Jennifer. 1998. Terms in Context. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Pečkuvienė, Laima. 2012. Priesagos -imas (-ymas) vediniai administracinėje kalboje: vartosena ir normos. Specialybės kalba: gramatika ir logika. Vilnius: Mykolo

Romerio universitetas. Piehl, Aino. 2013. Fine Tuning Style and Precision: Adapting Directive Citations to Finnish Statutes. Linguistica Antverpiensia, 12, 161-181.

Pogožilskaja, Liudmila. 2012. Peculiarities of Formal Structure of Terminology of Constitutional Law in Lithuanian and English. In Specialybės kalba: gramatika ir logika. Vilnius: Mykolo Romerio universitetas.

Rudnickaitė, Guoda. 2012. Teisės aktų kalba ir forma. Juristas, 9, 35-37.

Sager, Juan. 1993. Language Engineering and Translation. Consequences of Automation. Philadelphia: Benjamins.

Schäffner, Christina. 2002. The Role of Discourse Analysis for Translation and in Translator Training. Clevedon: Short Run Press Ltd.

Schneidereit, Gaby. 2007. Legal Language as a Special Language: Structural features of English Legal Language. Munich: Grin Publishing GmbH.

Stubbs, Michael. 1996. Text and Corpus Analysis: Computer Assisted Studies of Language and Culture. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Swales, M. John. 1990. Genre analysis: English in academic and research settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Šarčevic, Susan. 2000. New approach to Legal Translation. The Hague: Kluwer Law International.

Tessuto, Girolamo. 2012. Investigating English Legal Genres in Academic and Professional Contexts. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

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

Tiersma, M. Peter. 2003. The Creation, Structure, and Interpretation of the Legal Text. (accessed October 15, 2016).

Trosborg, Anna. 1997. Rhetorical Strategies in Legal Language: Discourse Analysis of Statutes and Contracts. Tűbingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.

Trosborg, Anna, ed. 1997. Text Typology and Translation. The Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing Co.

Tsou, K. Benjamin, and Oi Y. Kwong. 2003. When Laws Get Common: Comparing the Use of Legal Terms in Two Corpora. Language and Linguistics, 4(3), 609-629.

Varo, A. Enrique, and Brian Hughes. 2002. Legal Translation Explained. St. Jerome Publishing: Manchester.

Vladarskienė, Rasuolė. 2006. Teisės akto formos įtaka jo kalbai. Jurisprudencija, Mokslo darbai, 8(86), 51-55.

Yankova, Diana. 2006. Semantic Relations in Statutory Texts: A study of English and Bulgarian. SKY Journal of Linguistics 19, 189-222