Development of deontic modality in Chinese civil laws : A corpus study
In legislative texts, deontic modality helps define rights, privileges, obligations, and responsibilities. Based on a corpus of Chinese civil laws from 1949 to 2015, the study investigates the development of deontic modality in Chinese civil legislative discourse and examines the variations of deontic modality diachronically from a quantitative, functional perspective, thereby shedding lights on variations of legal text. This study shows that patterns of deontic modality manifest different features in different stages. The changes of linguistic forms of deontic modality show evidence of the adaptive feature in legal language. From a quantitative perspective, the study suggests that a corpus-driven approach helps examine the development and evolution of deontic modality diachronically. It also contributes to an understanding of deontic modality mechanisms by providing both empirical evidence and theoretical insights.