Judgments of the English and Spanish Supreme Courts

A corpus-based approach to the legal English and Spanish discourse using multi-dimensional analysis


  • Daniel Granados Meroño Universidad de Murcia




Multi-Dimensional Analysis, Legal English, Legal Spanish, Factor Analysis, Corpus Linguistics


This study aims to explore the differences between English and Spanish judgments in criminal cases from the supreme courts of the UK and Spain using Biber’s Multidimensional Analysis. We compiled a corpus of twenty judgments from the supreme courts of Spain and the UK (ten from each country), whose parts of speech were tagged using the Free CLAWS web tagger and Grampal. The frequency of the eight selected linguistic features was obtained by using the corpus toolkit AntConc. We performed an exploratory factor analysis in both subcorpora to determine the latent structure behind all the linguistic features. Three textual dimensions were found in English: persuasion vs. power distance, subjectivity vs. objectivity, and involved vs. informational focus; and four factors representing three dimensions were found in Spanish: subjectivity vs. objectivity, intertextuality, involved and informational focus. The English corpus has prevalent persuasion, objectivity, and informational focus; the Spanish corpus has no relevant intertextuality scores, a prevalent subjectivity, and informational focus.

Author Biography

  • Daniel Granados Meroño, Universidad de Murcia

    Departamento de Filología Inglesa, Universidad de Murcia, Spain.


Alcaraz, E. (2007) El inglés jurídico: textos y documentos. 6a. Barcelona: Ariel.

Alcaraz, E. and Hughes, B. (2002) Legal Translation Explained (Translation Practices Explained). Vol. 4. London and New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315760346

Álvarez Álvarez, S. (2008) Elementos cohesivos en el lenguaje jurídico: análisis contrastivo de las sentencias judiciales en lengua inglesa y española. In La traducción del futuro: mediación lingüística y cultural en el siglo XXI, 407–418. Promociones y Publicaciones Universitarias, PPU.

Bhatia, V. K. (2014) Analysing Genre: Language Use in Professional Settings. New York: Taylor & Francis. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315844992

Biber, D. (2006) University Language: A Corpus Based Study of Spoken and Written Registers. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. https://doi.org/10.1075/scl.23

Biber, D. (1995) Dimensions of Register Variation: A Cross-linguistic Comparison. Cam­bridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519871

Biber, D. (1988) Variation across Speech and Writing. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511621024

Biber, D. and Conrad, S. (2019) Register, Genre, and Style. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108686136

British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII). https://www.bailii.org/

Cantos Gómez, P. (2013) Statistical Methods in Language and Linguistic Research. Sheffield: Equinox.

Consejo Superior del Poder Judicial. Centro de Documentación Judicial (CENDOJ). Retrieved on 18 February, 2020. https://www.poderjudicial.es/cgpj/es/Temas/Centro-de-Documentacion-Judicial--CENDOJ-/

Garofalo, G. (2009) Géneros discursivos de la justicia penal: un análisis contrastivo español-italiano orientado a la traducción. Milano: Franco Angeli.

Gorsuch, R. L. (1983) Factor Analysis, 2nd Edition by Richard L. Gorsuch. Hillsdale, NJ and London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203781098

Hyland, K. (2005) Metadiscourse : Exploring Interaction in Writing. London and New York: Continuum.

Molina, L. and Albir, A. H. (2002) Translation techniques revisited: A dynamic and functionalist approach. Meta: journal des traducteurs / Meta: Translators’ Journal 47(4): 498–512. https://doi.org/10.7202/008033ar

Moreno Sandoval, A. and Guirao Miras, J. M. (2003) Grampal. Madrid: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. http://cartago.lllf.uam.es/grampal/grampal.cgi

Orts, M. Á. (2015a) Legal English and legal Spanish: the role of culture and knowledge in the creation and interpretation of legal texts. ESP Today 3: 1–134.

Orts, M. Á. (2015b) Power distance and persuasion: the tension between imposition and legitimation in international legal genres. Journal of Pragmatics 92: 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2015.11.009

Orts, M. Á. (2016) Opacity in international legal texts: generic trait or symbol of power? Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses 28: 119–145. https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.2015.28.07

Parodi, G. (2003) Lingüística de corpus y análisis multidimensional: exploración de la variación en el corpus PUCV-2003. Revista Española de Lingüística 35(1): 45–76.

Ruiz Moneva, M. A. (2013) Cognition and context of legal text: Spanish and English judgments compared. Revista de Lingüística y Lenguas Aplicadas 8: 76–92. https://doi.org/10.4995/rlyla.2013.1245

Swales, J. (1990) Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Trosborg, A. (1995) Statutes and contracts: an analysis of legal speech acts in the English language of the law. Journal of Pragmatics 23(1): 31–53. https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(94)00034-C

UCREL. (1987) Free CLAWS web tagger. Lancaster: Lancaster University. http://ucrel-api.lancaster.ac.uk/claws/free.html






How to Cite

Granados Meroño, D. (2023). Judgments of the English and Spanish Supreme Courts: A corpus-based approach to the legal English and Spanish discourse using multi-dimensional analysis. Journal of Research Design and Statistics in Linguistics and Communication Science, 7(1), 21-68. https://doi.org/10.1558/jrds.22453