Legal Language Explorer

The Google N-grams tool (see my recent post and update) has now fostered a new application to search 200 years of US Supreme Court decisions: Legal Language Explorer. It has been developed by Professor Dr. Daniel Martin Katz of Michigan State University College of Law, Michael J. Bommarito II of Computational Legal Studies, and their colleagues.

The tool is lightning fast, and I really like the way that the corpus tool allows you to click through to list of cases and then to see the original text, and to export lists to Excel, for example. I also support the move, of which the authors are part, to make more full-text legal resources openly available to the public.

Click here to see a presentation of the service, given at the conference JURIX 2011 in mid-December. Bommarito has also posted a more technical description of the project on his blog.

You can try out the web-based interface here. Let me know what you think!

Thanks to Rob L. indirectly via Australia, and Robert at Legal Informatics Blog for bringing the project to my attention.

Google N-grams, tracking word use

This fascinating post by Dr Carol O’Sullivan at the University of Portsmouth may be of interest to translators and lawyers alike – sharing an interest in how words are used.

It describes how collections of texts from 1500 to 2008, in several languages (Englishes, simplified Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Spanish and Russian), can be used to examine synonyms, neologisms, and even to compare ‘competing words’.

I did a little test following Carol’s instructions, to compare “claimant” and “plaintiff”. Here are the results, for American English and for British English between 1800 and 2008. Note that the y-axis scales differ.

We can clearly see the jump in the use of “claimant” in the UK following the entering into force of the Civil Procedure Rules in April 1999. Continue reading