Conceptual Blending in Legal Writing: Linking Definitions to Facts

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English for Specific Purposes

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Although the body of research on legal language is significant, analysis of the kinds of texts that lawyers learn to write in the vocational stage of their training remains limited. While some legal writing textbooks explicitly address the lexicogrammatical resources necessary to write common genres such as the legal memorandum, the use of features such as tense and articles is largely tied to explanations based on generality or specificity. Drawing on conceptual blending theory, this study examines the use of such features in the “Question Presented” section of eleven legal memoranda. Textual analysis is further supplemented with questionnaire data from legal writing professionals. Analysis suggests that rather than representing a clear distinction between general and specific reference, these linguistic features indexically reference and blend various “mental spaces” that are necessary for common law argumentation. The study highlights the need to connect discipline-specific concepts to linguistic meaning in English for Legal Purposes, particularly for L2 students trained in other jurisdictions.



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