A Stylistic Analysis with a Focus on Lexical (Binomial) Expressions

Communication is a means of transmitting information, there are several ways of how people can do so. Language as an instrument of communication. The language of law is the study object of this thesis. Style is the study object of stylistics, grammar.

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It is recognized and agreed that in connection with. (ICA 4. 01)

(a) written notice of such injury, including the time, place, cause and nature of the injury, is served upon and received by the Club (UPC 305, 2)

For the purposes of subsection (4) an offence charged as having been committed between to different dates is to be treated as charged as (TA Part 6, 5)

In conclusion to the grammatical features, word classes are not used evenly. The prevailing majority is those of nouns, verbs, prepositions and conjunctions. Then come adjectives and adverbs, and the least occurrences are of pronouns and numerals. Naturally, no other classes are present.

Discourse and Textual Level

There are several features contributing to the cohesion and coherence of the documents. Firstly, it is the scarce use of reference. Due to the strict requirements for precision and unambiguity, it is typical of legal document to apply a minimum of personal, objective and possessive pronouns for reference. Instead, repetition is employed, so that no space is left for misinterpretation. However, where it is utterly clear to what person or entity the pronoun refers to, then it is possible to find a relevant pronoun. This particularly holds true for the testament, as well as the WD, which is conditioned by the character of the instruments. The aim is to indicate clearly who makes/made those legal decisions, who executed them and what the relationships are between the people concerned in them. To support this, there are some instances adopted from the testament and the WD; the very first is in the opening clause of the T.

In the UPC, the its pronoun appears when it is used to refer to the club, team, league or organization. A few instances of he and his appear related to the player, obviously where there is no possibility to misinterpret the reference.

The Player represents and agrees that he has exceptional and unique skill and ability as a baseball player; that his services to be rendered hereunder are of special, unusual and (UPC 293, 4a)

to observe and comply with all reasonable requirements of the Club respecting conduct and service of its team and its players, (UPC 292, 3b)

In the ICA and the Acts there are no instances of either personal or possessive pronouns.

Besides repetition, other means employed for reference are determiners. In other varieties of English, the definite article the is used. In legal English, it is rather rare because legal English employs other devices, such as said and such. These unique determiners stand for the, the particular, the one that is being concerned and no other. My sample documents provide some examples of these determiners, e. g. such named beneficiary, said pre-deceased beneficiary's share; such child or children (T) ; such expenses (ICA) ; for said County and State (WD) ; by such player for participating in such game; such injury (UPC) ; by such person and in such manner; to such other provisions and restrictions (PJA).

However, it is necessary to comment on a few differences in the scale of use of such and said among all the documents. The richest in these special determiners is the T and, taking into account its length, the WD. The least occurrences fall on the ICA, whereas the UPC and the Acts fall in between on the scale. In the case of the ICA (only one occurrence), the reason may be explained on the grounds of the construction of the sentences, and perhaps in the use of the demonstrative pronoun that instead. So it seems that the sentences were drafted in a way that does not allow for or need any use of such or said.

6. 01. Entire agreement: This Agreement supersedes any and all other agreements, either oral or in writing, between the parties hereto with respect to the hiring of Contractor by Client, and contains all of the covenants and agreements between the parties with respect to that hiring in any manner whatsoever.

In some ICA sentences we may also find the as the determiner, but in these instances it would be illogical and senseless to use such/said due to the direction of reference, as in:

6. 01. Entire agreement: This Agreement supersedes any and all other agreements, either oral or in writing, between the parties hereto with respect to the hiring of Contractor by Client, and contains all of the covenants and agreements between the parties with respect to that hiring in any manner whatsoever.

With regards to what I have just said, it may appear that there is a tendency in legal documents, such and said are used in anaphoric reference, whereas the may be both anaphoric and cataphoric.

In the WD, it is worth noticing that said appears together with the, as if the purpose was to intensify the said determiner:... the said property unto the said Grantee.

The Acts and the UPC are in the middle of the scale of the use of such, said and the definite article. The reason in the UPC seems to be the preference and style of the drafter to make the document a less legal and loose instrument. Moreover it may be the fact that it reflects the movement towards simplification, or perhaps the fact that it is an agreement between a player and a club and they are considered laymen, so it needs to be fully comprehensible. As for the Acts, the common use of the definite article can be explained on similar grounds. They are codes of law and as such, they need to be fully comprehensible and clear for both the police force, and the public who are not considered professionals in terms of law. So again, it is the structure of the sentences that prefers the use of the definite article.

As for the use of the definite article as such, there is an apparent lack of this determiner to be used with the main participants, parties or entities in legal documents. To show that they are the ones concerned, the initial letters in their names are capitalised (see Chap. 1. 3. 1). Nevertheless, the UPC is an exception - all the relevant people, documents, organizations, bodies and institutions and other items connected to the field of baseball are capitalised, so the participants and necessary covenants and attachments to the agreement concerned are not only capitalized, but also the definite article is employed to show that they all relate to that particular agreement.

Finally, the demonstrative this is fairly largely applied in legal documents. It is to supply the definite article with the same meaning and to state clearly and specifically which document, or its part, is being referred to. In the documents, there are some occurrences, such as this Agreement, this Warranty Deed, this Will, this provision, etc.

The next cohesive device that is necessary to look at is that of conjunctives, (i. e. conjunctions and conjuncts) and other linking devices. In the area of conjunctions, there are two levels of relation between sentences, those of coordination and subordination. In legal documents, at the level of coordination, the typical conjunctions are and and or, and at the level of subordination they are if, when, unless, that, and which. In phrases, the coordinating conjunctions and and or are used. Sometimes appear the conjunction but.

In the sample documents I have found numerous instances of conjunctions and other linking means. Together with repetition and such/said determiners, they contribute to the cohesion of the texts to a large extent. The following are the specific instances employed. In all the documents, the conjunctions and, or and if appear in majority, so the following are all examples of conjuncts and other links. In the brackets, I quote the number of the page (UPC) and number of the paragraph (all the other texts except for the WD).

In the UPC they are in addition to (292) ; upon (299) ; then (301) ; unless and until (304) ; in the event of (307) ; in the case of (307) ; except that (309). The ICA document provides that, while, including (2. 03) ; whether or nor (5. 01) ; either... or (5. 04). The T shows that (1) ; which (2) ; in the event of (2; 4) ; then (5) ; including but not limited (5) ; as long as (6, 6) ; however (6, 7) ; upon (gp 8). For its length the WD offers only three conjunctions (and, or, but) and no other linking devices.

Worth mentioning is the sentence (UPC 295, 6b) in which the link if was omitted, so a change of word order was necessary to employ and should stands in the place of the conjunction.

The Player agrees that, should the Club contemplate an assignment of this contract to another Club or Clubs, the Club's physician may furnish...


In the foregoing analysis I have outlined, at various levels, the features that are considered typical and distinctive of legal English. I have looked carefully at the material and tried to find the relevant features. If present, I have exemplified them, if not, I have commented on their absence. Also, I have commented on some exceptions to the features, if they were present in the texts.

On these grounds (mainly due to the presence of technical terminology, complexity of sentences, the level of explicitness and the layout) I may conclude that all the texts belong to the domain of law, though with some slight differences on the norm scale. With respect to the differences, the closest to the norm may appear the WD and the T, which is apparent mainly in the complexity of sentences, their layout, word order and the use of the passive. The Acts slightly diverge from the rest of the sample documents mainly in the complexity of the sentences - it seems to be less complex (no embedded clauses, no heavy modification), and the frequent use of the definite article. The Acts belong to the genre of codes of law, which may be described as simplified legal documents because they are intended to be understood as clearly as possible by the general public for they serve as a means of keeping and establishing social order among

people. In this sense, the laymen must be able to understand what is against the law and what is not in a straightforward way. Nonetheless, generally speaking, all the texts show a flavour of conservatism, which is more than just. Whoever composes a legal document must ensure that it says exactly what the drafter intends it to say and that at the same time he gives no opportunity for misinterpretation at all. Thus, the drafter tries to avoid ambiguity, employs the greatest degree of inclusiveness and exactness of reference as possible. The fact is that legal documents are drafted not to enlighten the user, but to record information which is then scrutinized by someone else.

Analyses of binomials

The following represent two analyses. The first analysis deals with the distribution of binomials from the point of view of thematic progression, i. e. the ratio of binomials in theme, transition and rheme. The second analysis focuses on the semantic relations of binomials that appear in the samples of the legal documents examined in this thesis.

Thematic Structure

An English sentence has four main layers which are very frequently subjected to linguistic analyses and studies. They are thematic structure, clausal structure, sentence elements and parts of speech. Gustafsson (1975: 33) claims that binomials may occur in any part of a sentence (the final position is the most appropriate), in any function, and belong to any part of speech. Only the thematic structure is discussed in this thesis.

The thematic structure displays the function of two (or three) main parts of the sentence in a wider textual context. In the theoretical part, the terms of Satzthema and Satzaussage used by Mathesius, are mentioned together with those of theme (topic) and rheme (comment), because they are used as present-day terminology. Theme is defined as the known or at least obvious part in the given situation from which the speaker proceeds (Firbas 1992), whereas rheme conveys the unknown or not given elements of an utterance (ibid.). Simply said, the beginning of a sentence carries the known or `old' information; the new comes at the end. Every utterance has its degree of communicative dynamism (CD), and such dynamism is described on the grounds of functional sentence perspective (FSP). Generally speaking, the basic distribution of CD is that the beginning of an utterance has the lowest degree which gradually proceeds towards the highest. In this sense, theme can be described as not always carrying the new piece of information, but as being constituted by the sentences element or elements carrying the lowest degree (s) of CD within the sentence (ibid.). The varying degree of CD reflects the character of human thought and linear organization. In other words, thematic structure is concerned with the relation of what is being said to what has gone before in the discourse (ibid.). This affects the ordering of elements in clauses, and as a result theme always precedes the rheme. It would be very oblivious not to mention the last term concerned, that of transition, because it stands in between the theme and rheme and contributes to the development of CD and communication as such.

One of the aims of this thesis is to do a statistical survey based on the sample material I have chosen and to compare and comment on the proportions of binomials appearing in the three parts of an English legal sentence. Gustafsson (1975) made a very competent survey on the same topic but in a larger scale. Another difference is that she used material of a wider range including various prose texts and newspaper and magazine articles. I have surveyed only material connected with law.

The following table presents the results of my survey. There are six columns corresponding to the individual texts and aspects I have looked at. In each column, the number of binomials and the percentage of their total occurrences in each text are shown. The last column gives the total number of binomials in each text. The last line states the total occurrences of binomials in theme, transition, rheme, and the `? ' sections. The `? ' section refers to binomials that were rather difficult to match or the positions of which was not straightforwardly clear due to various factors, such as the lack of adequate context, the nature of the sentence (ellipsis, embedding, very complicated structures) and the fact that some of the binomials are phrases and appear in the headings of some sections.

Table 1

Distribution of binomials in the thematic structure.







N / %

N / %

N / %

N / %

N / %


6 / 6. 38

2 / 2. 13

85 / 90. 43

1 / 1. 06

94 / 100


11 / 16. 93

3 / 4. 62

50 / 76. 93

1 / 1. 54

65 / 100


2 / 25

1 / 12. 5

5 / 62. 5

0 / 0

8 / 100


6/ 13. 04

4 / 8. 70

35 / 76. 09

1 / 2. 18

46 / 100


5 / 71. 43

2 / 2. 53

65 / 82. 28

7 / 8. 86

79 / 100


30 / 10. 27

12 / 4. 11

240 / 82. 20

10 / 3. 43

292 / 100


As it is apparent from the table above, the distribution of binomials in the thematic structure is not even. This is due to the principles of communicative dynamism. Then it is only natural that the greatest share of binomial words (roughly calculated at four fifths) falls on the rhematic part. In her statistical study, Gustafsson (1975) came to a very similar conclusion. She explains that the high frequency of binomials in the rheme indicates that they contribute to the development of communication (ibid: 37). Thus binomial expressions are linguistically used to bear new and additional information and to enlarge and elaborate the end of an utterance which is informationally heavier. Compared with transition (see below), the rheme may be extremely diversified in its grammatical structure. It may be constituted by miscellaneous sentence elements, i. e. various objects, complements, complicated infinitival and prepositional phrases which are used adverbially (ibid: 40). The diversity is exemplified by the following instances. Noteworthy is also the fact that there are more binomials in one rhematic part. The reason is that they sometimes modify one another.

A weights and measures inspector authorised or required to do anything by virtue of an accreditation under this section - (b) shall be so authorised or required subject to such other restrictions and conditions (if any) as may be specified in his accreditation. (PJA 15, 6)

, that the chief officer must ensure that the person receives adequate raining in the exercise and performance of the additional powers and duties. (PJA 7, 6)

. there is substituted shall be - (i) released without charge and on bail, or (PJA 11, i)

I revoke all my prior wills and codicils. (T 1, 1)

In making these distributions, The Trustee may consider other income and resources available to such Beneficiary. (T 6, 6)

, any gift I have made or will make during my life shall not be treated as satisfaction, in whole or in part, of any devise or bequest in my Will. (T gp, 7)

The services Contractor agrees to perform is to create and implement a material tracking system allowing for real time identification and location for all of Client's goods and materials in while in transit, and any matters incidental and/or relating thereto. (ICA 1. 01)

fail, in the opinion of the Club's management, to exhibit sufficient skill or competitive ability to qualify or continue as a member of the Club's team; or (UPC 298, 7. 2)In the Warranty Deed (WD) example document there is a sentence that I have intentionally left to be mentioned last because it contains 5 out of the total 8 binomials in the text.

Grantor does hereby bind itself, its heirs and assigns to WARRANT AND FOREVER DEFEND all and singular the said property unto the said Grantee, its successors and assigns, against every person whosoever lawfully claiming or to claim the same or any part thereof, by through or under Grantor, but not otherwise.

From the instances above and the material I have used for my study, it is clear, that there are a few simple sentences or even clauses present in legal documents containing binomials in the thematic part. This more or less applies for the thematic part as well. Generally speaking, if any clauses or very simple and short sentences are to be found with binomials in the thematic or rhematic parts, they are usually at the beginning or at the end of such documents.


The remaining one fifth of the distribution of binomials is constituted by the theme, transition and `? ' parts. The distribution of binomials in these places appears more or less even, although a more competent survey could come up with a slightly different result for various reasons. Firstly, sentences in legal English are typically and commonly complex in their structure, mainly due to the less frequent use of punctuation, or other visible structuring devices, numerous inserted clauses and non- standard word order. In consequence, attempts to break some of the sentences for an analysis may be more than a fastidious task.

The second cause may be the fact that the term transition is hard to be described and allocated. As many linguists agree, Gustafsson (1975) and Dane (1966) among others, its nature, concept and extent are not outlined clearly enough. Citing Gustafsson, transition is notionally a vaguely defined intermediary part of the sentence after the theme (1975: 39). In her treatise, she applied more or less a straightforward approach. She interprets this category as the first main verb after the theme, or the auxiliary and the verb including, but excluding all other elements of the verb phrase. The same approach has been applied in this thesis. The following are some examples. I give and bequest all of my interest in the following property, subject to any encumbrances, to the persons or entities as follows (T 2, 3)

If my spouse, John T. Webster fails or is unable for any reason to serve as Executor of my Estate, I nominate (T 4, 1)

In addition to such powers, the Trustee may, in the Trustee's discretion, invest and reinvest Trust funds in very kind of property (T 6, 3)

The Player represents and agrees that he has exceptional and unique skill and ability as a baseball player (UPC 293, 4)

The Player and the club recognize and agree that the Player's participation in certain other sports (UPC 294, 5)

It is recognized and agreed that in connection with the services to be preformed for Client, Contractor (ICA 4. 01)

Contractor agrees and promises not to engage in any unfair competition with the client. (ICA 5. 02)

If an order under subsection (1) confers or imposes additional powers and duties on a person who is under the direction and control of a chief officer of police of a police force, that chief officer must (PJA 7, 6)

The following samples constitute the binomial expressions in transition that seem debatable. Nonetheless, they have (reasoned by the below comments) been included in the transition column in Table 1.

Unless specifically set forth in writing and acknowledged by the donee thereof, any gift I have made or will make during my lifetime shall not be treated as a satisfaction, in whole or in part, of any devise or bequest in my Will.

Sample 18 is debatable for the fact that it is in a subordinate clause which modifies the subject (any gift). The whole clause is inserted between the subject (any gift) and the verb (shall not be treated). Further, it seems difficult (at least to the author) to limit the theme, transition and rheme in the whole sentence - in particular, whether the rheme starts by any gift or after shall not be.

Contractor shall be solely liable and responsible for payment same, and shall indemnify and hold Client harmless from claims made by any entity for payment fro such expenses incurred. (ICA 4)

The questionable character of Sample 19 is twofold. The first pair liable and responsible may at first seem to fall in the category of transition, but in the author's opinion it is not, because the structure of the binomial is not auxiliary + main verb (or its past participle) as in Sample 15, but auxiliary + main verb + adjective. The second pair may appear not appear to be in transition because it is preceded by a clause and consequently found in the thematic part. However, in the author's opinion it is a transition element because the two clauses are connected by the link and, and thus making the relation of the two predicates coordinate. Secondly, it follows the pattern auxiliary + main verb. A very similar problem may be applied to the sample below.

All files, records, documents, drawings, specifications, equipment, and similar items relating to the business of Client, whether they are prepared by Contractor or come into Contractor's possession in any other way and whether or not they contain or constitute trade secrets owned by Client, are and shall remain the exclusive property of Client and shall not be removed from the premises of client under any circumstances whatsoever without the prior consent of client. (ICA 5. 03, 2)

The are and shall remain pair is the main predicate (together with shall not be removed), though it may not seem so at first because it is preceded by a very complex subject which is heavily post-modified. However, I believe that the complex subject is the theme and the transition part falls on the are and shall remain binomial.

For a period of twenty-four (24) months immediately following the termination of this Agreement, Contractor shall not directly or indirectly make known to any person, firm or corporation the names or addresses of nay of the customers of Client or any other information (ICA 5. 02)

The binomial in Sample 21 was excluded of the transition part because it does follow the auxiliary + main verb or the main verb + main verb pattern, though (in the author's opinion) it is in the transition place.

In conclusion to the transition issue, I consider fairly important to note that the large number of the binomial expressions in the transition part in the Acts (see Tab. 1) is due to the presence of binomials in the section headings of the Acts (they are only phrases, not clauses) ; and that I believe that my opinions in the previous comments on the whole transition section may be seriously disputed and overcome by a more competent linguistic expert.


Following the principle of functional sentence perspective, the thematic part of an utterance is usually supposed to carry the more familiar piece of information and is marked by the lowest degree of dynamism. That appears to be the main reason for such a small number of occurrences of binomials in this place. Nonetheless, in the theme position binomial expressions of various structures may be found; and even within the whole extent of the theme itself the binomial may take various positions.

The very common and easily recognizable binomials in the theme are typically constructed by nouns - both concrete and abstract, though many treatises on legal language, e. g. Urbanov (1986: 19), claim that npadn je hojn vskyt abstrakt. Also, the binomials are the subjects of the sentences and they are related to some previous context as it is apparent from the use of determiners. On the other hand, determination need not necessarily be in the form of a definite article, because the relation is obvious from the situation. The samples below exemplify them.

The powers and duties conferred and imposed by the provisions for the time being applied under subsection (1) are to be known as (PJA 7, 2)

The enactments and instruments in the first column of the Schedule are repealed or revoked to the extent set out in the second column. (TA 5, 2)

All books and records utilized by Contractor's duties under this agreement shall be immediately returned to Client by Contractor on any termination of this agreement, (ICA 5. 01, b)

The Player and the Club may, without obtaining special approval, agree by special covenant to limit or eliminate the right of the Club to assign this contract. (UPC 295, 6)

If any beneficiary or recipient of any bequest named in my Will disclaims all or part of a gift, the portion of the gift disclaimed shall be distributed as if (T gp 8)

Other types of binomials in the theme can be found in the below sample sentences. The binomial expressions are at the centre of the phrases, or they serve as pre- or post- modifiers of other items.

A weights and measures inspector authorised or required to do anything by virtue of an accreditation under this section - (a) shall not be authorised or required by virtue of that accreditation to (PJA 15, 6)

I generally and specifically disinherit each, any and all persons who ever claimed to, or who may lawfully be determined to (T gp 1)

Unless the assignor and assignee Clubs agree otherwise, if the assignee club is a National Association Club, the assignee Club shall be liable only to pay (UPC 297, 3)

In section 36 (duty to share travel and freight information for security purposes), after subsection (5) there is inserted -

In addition to any powers and elective rights conferred by statute or federal law or by other provisions of this Will, I grant my Executor the authority to administer my Estate under nay procedure for (T 4, 3)

For violation by the Player of any regulation or other provision of this contract, the Club may impose a reasonable fine and . (UPC 306, 5)

Upon and after such assignment, all rights and obligations of the assignor Club hereunder shall become the rights and obligations of the assignee Club; (UPC 296, 6)

The Club's playing season for each year covered by this contract and all renewals hereof shall be as fixed by The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or (UPC 304, 1)

All files, records, documents, drawings, specifications, equipment, and similar items relating to the business of Client, whether they are prepared by Contractor or come into Contractor's possession in any other way and whether or not they contain or constitute trade secrets owned by Client, are and shall remain the exclusive property of Client (ICA 5. 03, 2)

From the instances above and the material I have used for my study, it is clear, that there are a few simple sentences or even clauses present in legal documents containing binomials in the thematic part. This more or less applies for the rhematic part as well. Generally speaking, if any clauses or very simple and short sentences are to be found, they are usually at the beginning or at the end of such documents. Lastly, it is not rare to find more than one binomial in a phrase, clause or sentence.


An intention to put forward one more aspect related to binomials and their distribution in English comes in addition. The aspect is related to the distribution of binomials in various genres of English written texts. I decided to include some comments on this aspect in this chapter as some interesting results came out of Gustafsson's study on the distribution of binomials in the theme, transition and rheme. It has been previously remarked that Gustafsson for her statistical study examined material of various characters - legal, literary, media, scientific and popular. It may not be surprising to learn that the presence of binomials in her material is not equal. Simply, there is no regular pattern even among the same groups of the material. It is interesting to compare the American legal text with the British sample. One may find quite a distinct difference. The legal domain seems quite rich in binomials; moreover, the British law sample seems even more abundant. Consequently, one may be tempted to think of binomials as more typical of legal language, particularly British, and typical of British English as such. This may be supported by the number of binomials in the English newspaper and magazine that Gustafsson explored (the Observer and Time Magazine). However, this is in contrast to the number of binomials in the scientific work by Margaret Mead (in Gustafsson's study referred to as MM), because she was American. Furthermore, the material that is the object of the study in this thesis is American, only the `Acts' are British, so to claim that British lawyers, together with British people, make a greater use of binomials would be far more than daring. Finally, one aspect should be also mentioned. The large numbers of binomials in legal texts are caused by the fact that into the results and sample occurrences of her analysis Gustafsson also included trinomial and multinomial expressions, though the expressions are always looked at, analysed and labelled binomials. Then perhaps one may assume the conclusion that legal English is the only jargon in which binomials appear so abundantly. The assumption, though, may be wrong, but it is clear that the law domain is undoubtedly very rich in them.

Whatever inclination to any of the assumptions above one chooses, it may be concluded that the frequency of binomials in written and spoken English is always conditioned by the domain in which it is used.

Semantic Structure of Binomials

A word is a language element constituting a unity of several layers that are under constant linguistic investigation. One of the layers is its meaning which is inquired into in the field of semantics. The topics related to a semantic study may be those of synonymy, hyponymy, antonymy, ambiguity, change of meaning, the emotive use of words and others. Gustafsson (1975: 76) notes that meaning is definitely a sine qua non in language, but the difficulty in bringing structure to meaning was the main reason why structuralists avoided it. However, developments in linguistics gave rise to some methods allowing the study of meaning. Various studies have been carried out and numerous treatises have been written on the problem of what is denoted by meaning, what its concept is, what layers or perhaps spheres of meaning there are, and how they are related. Therefore, the issue of a structure of meaning came to existence and the term of semantic field was introduced so that studies of conceptual spheres could begin. Structure is present in particular conceptual spheres and there is a system into which ideas denoted by vocabulary can be classified and organized. Other views, though, were brought into semantics, for example that of division of meaning into a series of component functions (ibid: 76). Component functions are further defined as some language forms or elements used with respect to the context. Phonetics, grammar, lexicology and semantics are areas in which the complexity of contextual relations of meaning is explored. It is the study of collocations of lexical items that the focus is put on by some linguists. On these grounds, binomials are related to this issue because, as Gustafsson (ibid.) suggests, some binomials are extreme cases of collocation. By collocation it is understood how words group together in a habitual manner. Many linguists, Trier among them, studied collocations and tried to reveal the semantic structures linking actual lexical items, and thus establish structure on an inter-lexical level. It did not take long until it was realised that lexical items could be dissected into semantic elements or components. The method that could break lexical items into semantic pieces was accordingly named componential analysis. In this way, the structure of lexical units can be explained because the meaning of one sense of a lexical item can be decomposed into its atomic concepts (ibid: 78). The terms of semantic component and semantic feature were coined. Gustafsson further comments that the use of componential analysis is useful in bringing structure to vocabulary and in explaining the internal relationships between lexical items.

The determining principle in componential analysis lies in the notion of semantic contrast, but instead of explicit contrast between complete lexical items one looks for contrast simultaneously in different dimensions of meaning. The contrastive elements are semantic features which occur in various combinations denoting meaning of lexical items. The above principle makes it possible to determine the semantic `distance' between two lexical items, and it offers the information that is needed for establishing semantic ambiguity, antonymy, hyponymy, synonymy, and paraphrase.

From the point of view of binomials, synonymy appears the most interesting, though linguists hold different views on the degree of similarity that synonymous items need. In this sense, the same semantic representation is required in two expressions that are supposed to be semantically synonymous. In contrast, a difference of one of the items is allowed among some other linguists. Gustafsson goes on listing other concepts of the degree of similarity concluding that componential identity, in part or in whole, is required of synonyms, but the degree of identity seems to vary from one feature to complete identity (ibid: 79).

The semantic features are generally believed to be binary, i. e. the + or - signs are used to mark the presence or absence of a feature as well as other labels are frequent, such (Male) and (Female), (Human) and (Non-human), (Abstract) and (Concrete), (Human) and (Animal) and finally (Animate) and (Inanimate). For some further detailed comments it is advised to look at Gustafsson (1975: 76-85) or any other relevant linguistic studies.

The following is the aim to see what types of binomials (and for certain purposes of tri- or multinomials) appear in legal English in terms of semantic structure and relationship. Gustafsson's classification is followed accompanied by some comments and, if an instance was found in the material used for the purpose of this study, by several occurrences of incidental binomials. Quite a large number of sentences in my material consists of long and complex sentences, so I have deliberately put down only the part or clause in which the relevant binomial appears. The typical relationships of binomials are presented, some of which were touched upon in the theoretical part (in terms of synonymy, antonymy and enumerations). The below classification is based on componential analysis:

semantic opposition

semantic homoeosemy

semantic complementation

semantic hyponymy

Semantic Opposition

In some binomials a common core of semantic features may be found, though sometimes their relation is polarized as in the binomial man and beast. Such binomial can be marked (+Concrete) and (+Animate), but A differs from B in terms of the feature (Human) - man is (Human) and beast is (-Human). In this sense, various subcategories of semantic opposition are achieved.

Morphological opposition

In such a binomial there is no inherent negative feature, but a negative morpheme is applied to show the opposition. The most frequent are dis-, in-, un-; common are also counter-, non-, and -less. There are only two instances in the material, both the same.

, Contractor shall not directly or indirectly make known to any person, firm or corporation (ICA 5. 02)

Besides, it is possible to find binomial in which opposition is achieved by syntactic means (e. g. the active as opposed to passive voice, the affirmative or negative). According to Gustafsson, such binomials are rare.

Animate opposition

In this sense, the concrete world is divided into animate and inanimate sections. Due to its high order in hierarchy of features, the (Animate) opposition is difficult to be realized. Gustafsson gives more detailed comments, but I do not consider them important or relevant enough to be further discussed. Below are the examples that in my view fall into this category. Nonetheless, it is necessary to point out one thing. There are several instances of such opposition in my material, but they all seem to share one problem. It may be objected that even a firm, body, entity or organization are animate because they are constituted by people. Taking into account this fact, I decided to analyse such binomials not only on the (Animate) component, but also on the (Human). Below are the examples that in my view fall into this category.

, and that by his/her/their signature (s) on the instrument the person (s), or entities upon behalf of which the person (s) acted, executed the instrument. (WD)

, Contractor shall not directly or indirectly make known to any person, firm or corporation the names and addresses of any (ICA 5. 02)

The Registrar General for England and Wales ormay supply information contained in any register of deaths kept by him - (d) to a person or body specified, or of a description specified, (PJA 13, 1)

The Player agrees that, . the right to enjoin the Player from playing baseball for any other person or organization during (UPC 293, 4)

The Player and the Club recognize and agree that (UPC 294, 5)


In Gustafsson s view this feature is applicable to most representatives the (Animate) class, tough most often the features (Male) and (Female) are used only to denote biologically high animals, man in particular. It is only natural that the area of kinship and family covers the majority; however it is not unusual to find this opposition outside kinship terminology. I did not find any more examples than those below.

, and if any such child (ren) has pre-deceased me, his or her share shall pass to his or her surviving child (ren). (T 3, 2) Generation

Semantic opposition in terms of lineal relationship is the determining feature in this category, i. e. the difference in age is the basis. Unfortunately I did not manage to find any examples that Gustafsson suggests (in genealogical terms) than those below. However, if we focus only on the lineal relationship, then it is apparent that first there is a grantee, and then comes the successor (s) and assign (s).

all and singular the said property unto the said Grantee, its successors and assigns, against (WD)


Based on rhythm and fractions of time, most of the time units are polarized, thus forming opposition in a convenient manner.


Binomials in Time opposition carry a notion of chronology, but Gustafsson explains that there are other types of rhythms and cycles.

No instances are available in my sample documents for both Time and Phase opposition.


Gustafsson points out that this feature is very clear in deictic expressions in which the speaker and his immediate environment are opposed to the rest in his conceptual sphere. Such binomials are typically featured by location, movement or change. Further, it can be applied to prepositional binomials.

In section 32 (police powers to gather information relating to flights and voyages to or from the United Kingdom), in subsection (PJA 14, 2)

(police powers and to gather information about freight entering or leaving the United Kingdom (PJA 14, 3)

of the Club respecting conduct and services of its team and its players, at all times whether on or off the field. (UPC 292, 3)

and agree that no other understandings or agreements, whether heretofore or hereafter made, shall be valid (UPC 303 sa)


There is variety of activities that are opposite. Such require one thing to be done at one time, the other takes place sooner or later. Gustafsson (1975: 92) contrasts that some complementary binomials are very close these cases.

; to purchase, maintain and liquidate investments; to open, change or close bank and deposit accounts, to sell or purchase a business (T 4, 4)

No player shall participate in any exhibition game with or against any team which, during (UPC 308 b)

In 14) the opposition is visible, though the second member does not necessarily apply that the action will take place sooner or later.


As the label suggests, such a binomial expression differentiates between an active and passive member.

In my materials there are no occurrences of such binomials, so I will show the one found in Gustafsson (1975: 92)

and shall be treated as including any equipment for the protection of drivers and passengers in or on a motor vehicle


In doing things, we want to achieve some results, not minding whether positive or negative. In Gustafsson's view, the best and worst possibilities are simultaneously expressed. I found none of such binomials in my material.

Emotion and Quality

Gustafsson (1975: 93) describes this category as showing semantic opposition only at a general level without any attempts to state the depth of the feeling or the scope of the qualifying binomial. My material offers one instance of such binomial expressions. Spiritual in the sense of `ecclesiastical' is opposed to temporal. Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, (Acts c. 4, Lead-in)

Another instance that could partially fit the category of Quality is as follows.

the Trustee may, , invest and reinvest Trust funds in every kind or property, real, personal or mixed, and (T 6, 3)


This opposition is explained as man-made, i. e. that man is willing to impose on the physical and spiritual world. Real may be some of these oppositions, others are conditioned by man's beliefs and faiths, but both man visualizes the Universe. No example has been found in my material.

Semantic Homoeosemy

By this relation, the same set of features is applied in the semantic analysis of the two members in a binomial. Furthermore, into this category Gustafsson also adds formal similarities, i. e. repetitions of the same words.

Formal Similarity

Binomials falling under this notion are made by repetition of each other. The links as after, by, for, in, over, and upon appear together with a very common subtype of binomials - that of comparative kind. The link by is the most frequent, being followed by to and after. Gustafsson highlights that in written language there is a tendency to hyphenate such expressions. Such binomials are very improbable to be present in legal documents. I have not found any in my samples.

Foreign and Familiar Words

The origin of binomials in English and the need to translate the recent loanwords explain and describe this category. To a common speaker of English, their origin may not be known to him because such binomials have been completely absorbed into the everyday vocabulary. In the below instances, A and B are homoeosemous, the first being the native word, the latter the foreign. However, such order may not always be the case. Expectedly, my material is abundant in these binomials, but I quote only a few (besides the typically known Last Will and Testament).

I give, devise and bequeath all of the residue and remainder of my Estate (T 3, 1)

including but not limited o changing the residence and domicile of the children (T 5)

for real time identification and location for all of Client's goods and materials in while in transit, (ICA 2. 01)

Contractor shall be solely liable and responsible for payment (ICA 4. 01)

which Contractor learned, saw, or became familiar or acquainted with, during the term of this Agreement (ICA 5. 02)

, nor shall any waiver or relinquishment of any right or power . (ICA 6. 03)

. will cause the Club great and irreparable injury and damage (UPC 293, 4)

The Player represents and agrees that he has exceptional and unique skill and ability as a . (UPC 293, 4)

investigation or hearing held or conducted, including. (UPC 301, 9)

during the current season or within one (1) year, managed and controlled by an eligible player (UPC 308, b)

to have effect in relation to things continued and saved by virtue of (PJA 4, 2d)

Some of the above exemplified samples may fall well under the next category because to decide what are translations of loanwords, what are borrowed or native expressions, what expressions have been accumulated into the language or what are nowadays words of technical accuracy needs a more competent expert on English wordstock.

Technical Accuracy

A large number of homoeosemous binomials are sequences of two (or more) terms and these seem to be perfectly synonymous. Gustafsson puts more precisely the character of such pairs - they belong to political, legal, or technical jargon in which both words have a meaning of their own. The difference in meaning may be so slight as to require expertise of the reader. These binomials are mainly common in the law. Gustafsson reasons this by the fact that this domain calls for the greatest possible exactness and precision. The second in number of occurrences of such binomials come the domains of politics and administration.

to make divisions, allocations or distributions in cash or kind (T 4, 4)

; to maintain or defend lawsuits; (T 4, 4)

or all aid assets bequeathed, transferred or gifted to such minor beneficiary

(T6, 2)

This contract or any supplement hereto shall not be valid or effective unless and until approved by the League President. (UPC, 304)

the rules or regulations of the League of which the Club is a member

(UPC 300, 9a)

the Player to report for practice or to participate in the exhibition games, as required and provided for, he shall (UPC 307)

Contractor agrees to indemnify Client from any claims, costs, losses, fees, penalties, interest, or damages suffered by (ICA 2. 04)

Client shall not control, direct or supervise Contractor's employees and subcontractors (ICA 2. 05)

to this Warranty Deed, which is attached hereto and incorporated herein by reference. (WD)

Semantic Complementation

Binomials belonging to this group of semantic relation are pairs which are neither opposite nor identical. Gustafsson finds it difficult to determine this relation, but she defines it as one member lacking a feature which is present in the other. Further, the speaker feels the two pairs are semantically connected.


In such a pair, two actions or events take place simultaneously or chronologically. The occurrences in my material are as follows.

It is recognized and agreed that in connection with the services . (ICA 4. 01)

Contractor agrees and promises not to engage in any unfair competition (ICA 5. 02)

The Player represents and agrees that he has exceptional and unique skill and ability as a . (UPC 293, 4)

including the time, place, cause and nature of the injury, is served upon and received by the Club (UPC 305, 2)

; except that any mortgage indebtedness or long term contractual indebtedness

., which may exist as a part of my Estate, may be continued and assumed by the recipient of such property. (T gp 2)

Logical Order

In Gustafsson's view, this relation is also abundantly present in legal English. She justifies her opinion by stating that in legal texts everything has to be put in explicit terms so that all loopholes and evasions can be prevented. It is typical of paragraphs dealing with legal proceedings to contain binomials in which the order of the procedure is given step by step. Gustafsson also claims that some of these binomials have become clichs (hear and determine; null and void). I have found an example of a Logical Order binomial in my samples. The other two have been borrowed from Gustafsson.

The services Contractor agrees to perform is to create and implement a materials tracking system.... (ICA 2. 01)

The National Academy of sciences shall designate a member of the advisory committee to appear and testify at such hearing

In the event that no judge in the district is available to hear and determine the case, .


By Complement Gustafsson means a relation in which A and B together form an integral unit, e. g. A and B may be two essential parts of a tool or some other instrument (1975: 101). Many of these binomials could be replaced by a single word. Despite the lack of explicitness of their parts, some binomials are popular combinations forming an entity. For this category no instances are available in my sample texts.


In such binomials the opposition between A and B is not normally conceived. Instead, the action A results in the action in B. The following are some instances quoted by Gustafsson in her study (1975: 101) as my sample texts provide no occurrences.


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