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This paper aims at studying the lexical or grammatical items occur in the corpus of the legal text and the On-line discussions. A legal text is something very different from ordinary speech. This is especially true of authoritative legal texts: those that create, modify, or terminate the rights and obligations of individuals or institutions. Lawyers often refer to them as operative or dispositive. On the other hand, online discussion is a relatively new form of communication, usually facilitates with computer networks. Many people would share their experience online in the blogs, forums, emails and even facebook. The readers would also leave their comments and questions toward the discussion. Such On-line discussions would be topic oriented and enable us to examine the particular language used in specialized corpus. We would use the legal texts and the On-line discussions' genre to evaluate the characteristics of the language and identify the implicit meaning of the text theme.
To narrow down the research area, the paper would focus on the words "Shall" and "Should" in the legal text and the On-line discussions.
A corpus would be collected by complying the text from The PolyU Corpus of Travel and Tourism Texts (TnT) for the study. Comparison of these specialized corpuses would be made to further study the syntax, the meaning and the use of "Shall" and "Should".
In order to analyze the lexico-grammatical items that used in "Shall" and "Should", "PolyU Language Bank Concordancer" was used as a tool to find out the usage and occurrences of a particular search word. The analysis result indicates that "Shall" appeared over 2001 instances and 3 instances in Legal documents and On-line discussions respectively. However, "Should" only appear 71 instances in Legal documents and 231 instances in On-line discussions. Those are the big differences between the texts. Therefore, I am interested in discovering whether "Shall" and "Should" played a different role, acts and meaning in these two texts.
"Shall" and "should" are verbs, auxiliary verbs and modal verbs in English used to express propositions about the future. They usually occur after the noun, like I, She, He and They as a helping verb before the main verb. With the main verbs, we often use one more helping verb to make different tenses. (Ann Hogue) As we can see "Shall" occurs more than 2001 instances in legal text with a very high frequency, when the word "shall" used in the second and third persons, connotes intention or compulsion. This use of the word "shall" in statements of the case and condition was formerly common not only in private legal documents between parties but also in Acts of Parliament, but in the latter the practice has been established to limit the use of "shall" to the expressions of obligation only. For their intrinsic and extrinsic meanings, intrinsic modality refers to actions and events that humans directly control and extrinsic modality refers to the logical status of events or states (Note 6/7/10). I have extracted 1-50 instances from the corpus to analyze their intrinsic and extrinsic meanings in the legal document.
act as a tour guide in the Maldives
also appoint one of its officers
ommitments and for this purpose he
also deposit with the Minister a b
apply to the Authority for a licenc
the Deputy Chairman
act in the office of the Chairman
Appendix 1.1 Personal volition for "shall" in legal document
of a tourist establishment licence
apply to the licence issuer by fili
e Registrar under section 18 or 19
- (a) be notified- (i) by notice
The Fund levy
- (a) be payable in respect of eve
he Authority by or under this Act
after that day, lie against the Aut
rmation services to the public and
, (a) be equipped with a suitable
ed to as an "enforcement notice")
- (a) in respect of any requiremen
ED ON LICENSEES> Every licensee
- (a) keep and maintain proper boo
Appendix 1.2 prediction in legal document
According to the Appendix 1.1, 1.2 and the sentence in the corpus, we can see the examples mostly express logical meanings in Legal documents since they always refer to the logical status of events or states. In the meantime, I'm also interested in studying the corpus on online discussion.
in the killanrey national park or
i stay in killarney for another day
k I do trendy that well! haha - we
see if I get there or not... And m
Appendix 1.3 Personal volition in online discussion
In the Appendix 1.3, We can see the word "Shall" in the online discussion corpus has a different result with the corpus in legal documents. The sentences in the appendix 1.3 are mostly "personal volition" because we would always use "shall" to express propositions about the future. Meanwhile, "Shall" has a very low frequency appears very infrequently in the online discussion as it only occurred 3 instances in the text. Most of the contents of the online discussion contents are usually informal, casual conversation and spoken language. People might also think that using "shall" sounds rather formal. It would be over-polite if that is in question form, but not firm enough if that is using in reply. In addition, formal writings are often appeared in documents or something where one party is writing information to another party. Thus people will rarely ask questions unless it's rhetorical. It usually uses for simple future tense. In declarative sentences under the pure system, shall is not used in the first person, since one does not usually give commands to oneself.
On the other hand, "Shall" expresses an action that will take place in the future while "should" expresses a recommendation. Therefore, we do see that "Should' appears very frequently in both texts a lot. "Should" indicates that the subject of the sentence has some obligation to execute the sentence predicate. In legal document, it's almost always definite situations and consequences; therefore, the frequency of using "should" was not so high unless it's related to something likes "authority should use their judgments in this scenario". We won't see legal documents going like "it should be illegal to sell drugs" instead of "it is illegal to sell drugs." In contrast, online discussion uses "should" a lot more frequently because most things are opinions but not definite facts like "He should be able to answer" or "You should be allowed 2 or 3 stops on the way."
Afterwards, I am going to analyze "should" from 1-50 in both corpuses and see if it mostly considered as a personal obligation or logical necessity.
the Queen's Printer imprints which
be removed from any copies of the
All requests for exceptions
be addressed to the State Procureme
be made payable to 'Hong Kong Gover
the cash advance
not be authorized
and comments regarding regulations
be directed to the administrator, O
to decide whether the application
Appendix 2.1 logical necessity in Legal Document
the judge considers that notice
be given, upon such notice as the j
in respect of it
do so in writing before 14th Novemb
make the travel arrangements
Appendix 2.2 personal obligation in Legal Document
From the 1-50 instances of should in Legal Document, I could notice that the extrinsic modality has a higher number than the intrinsic. This is because "should" expresses a recommendation, and we do not need recommendation or suggestion in the legal text. However, it has a different result in online discussion.
5 Date: 07/20/2004, 05:05 pm > I
add - if the CNN tour is the main "
s........ > Hello, I thought I
add another two of my favourite pla
ersation regarding politics. But I
also add that I was there 4 years a
also ask on the LP Thorntree - UK &
d that you're going in Sept, which
be a really good time to go. With k
tions must be made in advance. You
be able to "Google" "Ute Mountain T
Appendix 3 for personal obligation in Online discussion
The result in 1-50 instances of should in online discussions is dramatically different with legal documents since I cannot find any logical necessity in the text at all. The reason is most things are opinions and not definite facts in online discussion.
In conclusion, modals express the mood of a verb, such as ability, possibility, necessity, or another condition. They are used with a main verb to form a sentence or a question. Modals are not conjugated, have no tenses, and cannot be used without a main verb. Moreover, word can have various meanings, role and usage in different contexts. Like the words "Shall" and "Should", their occurrence, frequency, and meaning are completely different when they are appearing in the different texts. Just like "Shall", legislative acts and contracts sometimes use "shall" and "shall not" to express mandatory action and prohibition. However, it is sometimes being used to mean "may" or "can". In addition, for the "Should", "should" indicates an obligation especially when used in questions, "should" asks if an obligation exists.
Word count: 1120 (excluded appendix and bibliography)