By offering an international and interdisciplinary point of comparison, Hamann and Vogel demonstrate that current American forays into corpus-based legal scholarship reflect only a small sliver of the full range of possibilities for such research. This Comment considers several key branching points that may lie ahead, as the nascent literature begins to mature. In particular, the Comment examines two vexing ambiguities in the corpus-linguistic agenda: the first centers on the ambiguous meaning of legal “empiricism”; the second, on the ambiguous relationship between words and actions. To achieve its full potential, legal corpus linguistics will need to move beyond mere description, to identify patterned configurations, to interpret cultural meanings, and to trace causal processes. To do so effectively, researchers will need to look beyond legal corpora alone, to explore the varied and complex relationships between texts and acts, and between legal institutions and the surrounding society.
Mark C. Suchman,
The Power of Words: A Comment on Hamann and Vogel’s Evidence-Based Jurisprudence Meets Legal Linguistics—Unlikely Blends Made in Germany,
2017 BYU L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.byu.edu/lawreview/vol2017/iss6/15