Corpus Linguistics and the Criminal Law
26 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2017 Last revised: 22 Dec 2017
Date Written: September 4, 2017
This brief response to Ordinary Meaning and Corpus Linguistics, an essay by Stefan Gries and Brian Slocum, explains why corpus linguistics represents a radical break from current statutory interpretation practice, and it argues that corpus linguistics ought not be adopted as an interpretive methodology, especially for interpreting criminal laws. Corpus linguistics has superficial appeal because it promises to increase predictability and to decrease the role of judges’ personal preferences in statutory interpretation. But there are reasons to doubt that corpus linguistics can achieve these goals. More importantly, corpus linguistics sacrifices other, more important values, including notice and accountability.
Keywords: criminal law, statutory interpretaion, textualism, notice, accountability, corpus linguistics
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