CHELAR: Corpus of Historical English Law Reports 1535-1999, version 2
CHELAR v.2 is the most recent version of the Corpus of Historical English Law Reports 1535-1999, completed in 2018 by members of the research unit under the coordination of Paula Rodríguez-Puente and Teresa Fanego
Elaboration dates: June 2016 - November 2018. Release date: December 2018.
Reference line and copyright:
For the plain text and POS-tagged versions:
Corpus of Historical English Law Reports 1535–1999 (CHELAR), v.2. 2018. Compiled by Paula Rodríguez-Puente, Teresa Fanego, María José López-Couso, Belén Méndez-Naya, Paloma Núñez-Pertejo, Cristina Blanco-García & Iván Tamaredo. Santiago de Compostela: Research Unit for Variation, Linguistic Change and Grammaticalization, University of Santiago de Compostela.
For the XML version:
Corpus of Historical English Law Reports 1535–1999 (CHELAR),TEI-XML Edition. 2018. Designed by Paula Rodríguez-Puente, Teresa Fanego, Cristina Blanco-García & Iván Tamaredo. Based on the Corpus of Historical English Law Reports 1535–1999 (CHELAR), v.2 (2018). Santiago de Compostela: Research Unit for Variation, Linguistic Change and Grammaticalization, University of Santiago de Compostela.
Brief introduction to the TEI-XML edition:
CHELAR v.2 has enhanced the usefulness of the corpus by including, in addition to raw and POS-tagged files, files in Extensible Mark-up Language (XML), following the TEI P5 Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange developed by the Text Encoding Initiative Consortium (TEI Consortium 2016). Textual accuracy has also been improved by the amendment of a number of typos and errors in the original version (for further information see Corpus Structure). The provision of bibliographic data is likewise more accurate in CHELAR v.2, as it now includes information about the reporter(s) of the cases whenever possible, as well as exact information about the collections where the original reports are included together with the date in which the reprints were issued. The complete list of source texts and word counts is available online.
CHELAR is a specialised corpus consisting of law reports dating from the period 1535-1999. Law reports are records of judicial decisions which are “cited by lawyers and judges for their use as precedent in subsequent cases” (Encyclopædia Britannica Online s.v. law report); they typically contain an account of all the facts of the case, the arguments of the judge, his reasoning, the judgment he arrives at and the kind of authority and evidence he uses.
The earliest law reports were brief manuscript notes of proceedings which were collected and published annually, whence their name Year Books. The Year Books were produced between 1268 and 1535; they consisted of anonymous reports written either in French or Latin and contained no bibliographical information. From 1535 onwards law reports have been written in English, and have followed a standard format. The year 1535 was therefore chosen as the starting date for CHELAR.
Law reports have a primarily informative function and can be broadly categorised as expository, descriptive legal writings, as opposed to legislative, prescriptive writings such as acts of parliament, statutory documents, contracts, agreements, wills and insurance policies. CHELAR thus enables researchers to investigate a legal text type which is not included in any other existing diachronic corpus – apart from the legal section in ARCHER 3.2, also compiled by the VLCG team as part of their work for the ARCHER Consortium.
The corpus contains approximately half a million words. It is structured into nine periods of 50 years each, except for the first subperiod, which covers from 1535 to 1599.
Open access download. CHELAR v.2 can only be accessed under the conditions laid out in the User Agreement. For any queries, please contact Teresa Fanego (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Paula Rodríguez-Puente (email@example.com).
CHELAR v.2 documentation:
Overall structure of CHELAR v.2.
Source texts and word counts.
Publications on CHELAR:
Fanego, Teresa, Paula Rodríguez-Puente, María José López-Couso, Belén Méndez-Naya, Paloma Núñez-Pertejo, Cristina Blanco-García & Iván Tamaredo. 2017. "The Corpus of Historical English Law Reports 1535-1999 (CHELAR): A resource for analysing the development of English legal discourse." ICAME Journal 41: 53-82.
Rodríguez-Puente, Paula. 2011. "Introducing the Corpus of Historical English Law Reports: Structure and compilation techniques." Revista de Lenguas para Fines Específicos 17: 99-120.
Publications using CHELAR:
Biber, Douglas & Bethany Gray. 2019. "Are law reports an ‘agile’ or an ‘uptight’ register? Tracking patterns of historical change in the use of colloquial and complexity features". In Corpus-based research on variation in English legal discourse, ed. by Teresa Fanego & Paula Rodríguez-Puente. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins, pp. 147-170.
Rodríguez-Puente, Paula. 2019. "Interpersonality in legal written discourse: A diachronic analysis of personal pronouns in law reports, 1535-present". In Corpus-based research on variation in English legal discourse, ed. by Teresa Fanego & Paula Rodríguez-Puente. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins, pp. 171-199.
International Workshop on CHELAR and related corpora:
The workshop "Advances in Corpora of Legal English: Investigating variation in legal discourse" was organised in the context of ICAME 38 (Annual Conference of the International Computer Archive of Modern and Medieval English), Charles University in Prague, 24 May 2017.
Workshop convenors: Teresa Fanego & Paula Rodríguez-Puente.
A peer-reviewed volume stemming from this workshop has now been published. Details are as follows:
Teresa Fanego & Paula Rodríguez-Puente, eds. 2019. Corpus-based research on variation in English legal discourse. (Studies in Corpus Linguistics 91). Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins. viii + 294 pp. ISBN 978 9027202352.
2014-2017: Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness; grant FFI2014-52188-P.
2017-2019: Regional Government of Galicia; grant ED431B 2017/12.
2018-2020: Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities; grant FFI2017-86884-P.