Góźdź-Roszkowski : Corpus approaches to study of evaluative language in judicial opinions

Professor Dr. Stanisław Góźdź-Roszkowski of the University of Łódź presented a paper entitled Corpus approaches to the study of evaluative language in institutional discourse, at EMLS 2014: Empirical Methods in Language Studies Conference, held 7-8 April 2014 in Łódź, Poland.

Here is the abstract, from the book of abstracts:

The term ‘evaluative language’ refers to a wide range of language resources used to express subjectivity, value and opinion. Corpus approaches to the study of evaluative language range from Sentiment Analysis (e.g. Liu 2010) to the study of stance (e.g. Biber 2006) to the application of corpus techniques to the study of appraisal (e.g. Bednarek 2008). In my presentation I plan to focus on the use of evaluative language in the context of the US Supreme Court Opinions. Court judgments, especially those given by appellate courts offer a fertile ground for the study of evaluation construal since they contain not only majority opinion but also concurring and, most importantly, dissenting opinions. In these texts, appellate judges argue for or against decisions of lower courts, decisions of their colleagues sitting on the same bench or arguments of the appellants. Based on a one-million word corpus of US Supreme Court opinions, this paper attempts to compare the pros and cons of two corpus approaches. First, it will illustrate a corpus-based approach by focusing on two patterns v-link + ADJ + that pattern and v-link + ADJ + to-infinitive pattern. It is argued that these two patterns represent a viable and efficient diagnostic tool for retrieving instances of evaluative expression and for providing a starting point for a generalized description of how evaluation is expressed in the judicial disciplinary discourse. Then, I will turn to demonstrate the use of a corpus-assisted discourse analysis (CADS) methodological framework (cf. Partington et al. 2013) by discussing the role of evaluative language and prosody in the landmark US Supreme Court opinion on same-sex marriage: United States v. Windsor decided June, 26, 2013.

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