Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, Vol 11, No 3 (2014)

Phraseology, argumentation and identity in the Supreme Court of Ireland’s judgments on language policy

Davide Mazzi
Issued Date: 31 Oct 2018


The Irish judiciary's approach to bilingualism as the constitutional guarantee of the right to use either Irish or English for any official purpose has proved highly flexible. However, while emphasis has been laid on principles of constitutional interpretation from the practitioner's perspective, the discursive dimension of cases involving language policy has yet to be fully elucidated. This paper combines quantitative analysis with a qualitative perspective to focus on phraseological and argumentative patterns in Supreme Court judgments on language policy, based on a small corpus. First, the ten most frequent lexical bundles of the corpus were extracted to study the main discourse functions of phraseology in context. Second, a manual text analysis was conducted of the two cases where recurrent phraseological patterns were most widely attested. This allowed for the isolation of the argument schemes underlying the structure of the Justices' opinions. While phraseology points to a shared institutional identity of Irish Justices as gatekeepers of the Constitution, the use of argumentative patterns suggests that they may forge heterogeneous professional identities, by shifting from a rigouristic view of language rights to forms of judicial pragmatism.

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DOI: 10.1558/japl.32729


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