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More than Verbs: An Introduction to Transitivity in Legal Argument

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Document pages: 45 pages

Abstract: This article provides a brief introduction to transitivity and its importance to legal discourse from the perspective of functional linguistics. The article assumes the necessity of multiple participants and actions rather than states as a foundation for transitive events. But it separately examines aspect, punctuality, volition, affirmation, realis, agency, affectedness, and individuation as important components of legal argument, illustrating how each is used in legal contexts with examples drawn from legal complaints, trial transcripts, judicial opinions, and lawyering manuals. Understanding transitivity from a functional perspective not only provides legal advocates with the tools to use verbs more precisely, but illustrates how other linguistic resources attribute transitivity and offers unique insights into the structure of legal reasoning.

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