The Syntax-Semantics-Prosody Interface in Legislative Language


Though Chinese and English legislative language share similarities in certain aspects, they contrast most sharply in their syntactic structures and representations, owing to a number of social, cultural and typological factors. Traditional works have directed most of their attention to the lexicon, i.e. the collection of technical terms which are indispensable to the working of law, and the analysis of idiosyncrasies of those terms. Not much effort, if any, has been at present devoted to the study of the syntactic properties of legislative language and the way syntactic computation interfaces with semantic layer, which, the author believes, play a more determinate role in the constructing and interpreting of legislative clauses. This paper first attempts to examine the syntax-semantics interface in Chinese and English legal clauses from the levels of recursion, locality of reference and the general principle of economy respectively, and then tries to study how the position and stress of a word affect the syntax-prosody interface and the information flow. In the end, it concludes that syntax is responsible for base meaning and while prosody highlights a part or parts of that meaning.

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Shi, H. (2014). The Syntax-Semantics-Prosody Interface in Legislative Language. Beijing Law Review, 5, 240-247. doi: 10.4236/blr.2014.53021.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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