Using Coh-Metrix to assess differences between English language varieties
AffiliationDepartment of Psychology, University of Memphis
Department of English, University of Memphis
CEELI Institute, the Czech Republic
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractThis study examined differences between the written, national language varieties of the United States and Great Britain, specifically in texts regarding the topic of Law. The few previous studies that have dealt with differences between the dialects of the United States and Great Britain have focused on shallow-level features, such as lexis, subject-verb agreement, and even orthography. In contrast, this study uses the computational tool, Coh-Metrix, to distinguish British from American discourse features within one highly similar genre, Anglo-American legal cases. We conducted a discriminant function analysis along five indices of cohesion on a specially constructed corpus to show those differences in over 400 American and English/Welsh legal cases. Our results suggest substantial differences between the language varieties, casting doubt on previous generalizations about British and American writing that predict that the national varieties would vary more by genre than by language variety. Our results also offer guidance to materials developers of legal English for international purposes (such as in the E.U.) and drafters of international legal documents for producing effective and appropriate materials.