Professor Giulia Pennisi

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Professor Giulia Pennisi
Position/Fellowship type:
Associate Research Fellow
Fellowship term:
Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
Home institution:
University of Palermo
Email address:

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Summary of research interests and expertise:

 Giulia Adriana Pennisi is tenured researcher in English Language and Translation at the University of Palermo. She is currently working on specialized languages with a particular attention to lexico-grammatical and textual analysis of legal discourse genres within multilingual and multicultural contexts. Other fields of interest include specialized translation and the challenges posed by legal transplants in legislative process.

Project summary relevant to Fellowship:

 Comparative Law; Legislative Studies and Legislative Drafting; European Law

In the context of the activities aimed to improve and develop the integration and cooperation of new member states together with the states already belonging to the European Community, EU institutions have carried out a number of measures to increase the coherence of the body of common rights and obligations, binding all the member states of the EU (community acquis), for a long time. For this reason, the European Commission began in 2001 a process of consultation and discussion about the way in which problems resulting from the lack of a correspondence between national laws (and related terms) belonging to different legal systems should be dealt with and solved at the European level. These consultations have emphasised the need to enhance coherence of the existing acquis in the field of Contract Law terminology and avoid preventable inconsistencies in new acquis terminology. As it was manifested, terms and concepts created by the legislature or jurists in a given jurisdiction do not necessarily correspond to terms and concepts produced in other legal systems. In fact, culture-bound legal concepts possessing strong regional connotations deserve careful attention when moving from English legal texts to Romance or Slavic languages.
The aim of her research is to explore these linguistic problems focusing on the solution prospected by the EU institutions in terms of the development of a contract law discourse. Starting from the latest development in the fields of linguistics (Halliday 1994, 2002; Fairclough 2003; Wodak and Chilton 2005) and sociolinguistics (Wenger 1999; Eckert 2000; Auer 2007) discourse analysis becomes a more comprehensive theoretical approach (Bhatia 2004, 2008) to the ways in which choices made at the semiotic EU discourse level can be considered the outcome of communities’ adjustment/re-scaling to the new socio-cultural, economic and political environment.
Since the end of 1970s, the study of discourse has spread in most of the humanities and social sciences, as well as the more critical approaches to language, discourse and interaction in many disciplines. (Fowler et. al 1979; Fairclough 1989, 1995; Wodak 1989; van Dijk 1985, 1997; Wodak and Meyer 2001). With the increasingly powerful methods of a systematic description of text and talk, and the more elaborated theories of cognition and interaction in their institutional and social contexts, discourse analysts have started to tackle more articulated and socio-cultural relevant issues (Lemke 1990; Bhatia 1993). Starting from the assumption that discourse is deeply embedded in society and culture, discourse analysis has become a new discipline characterised by a systematic and explicit investigation of the structures and strategies shaping the various levels of text and talk (Candlin 2006).
Giulia Adriana Pennisi is currently working on specialized languages with a particular attention to lexico-grammatical and textual analysis of legal discourse genres within multilingual and multicultural contexts. In particular, she is interested in the application of discourse analysis theories and methods in legal texts and the implication of research results in terms of a better interpretation and understanding of legal documents in an increasingly multilingual context.

Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
12-Dec-2014 Increasing language awareness and developing communication skills


in A. Miranda, Mediation in Europe at the crossroad of different legal cultures, Aracne Editrice.

01-Oct-2013 Epistemic modality markers in European and American law journals

Journal articles

In R. Salvi and W. Cheng (eds.), The use of English in intercultural professional settings: virtual encounters and identities. Textus 2013 (1). Pisa: Carrocci, 139-148.

01-Jun-2013 The challenges of language: re-shaping legislative discourse(s) and text(s)

Journal articles

Amicus Curiae. Journal of the Society for Advanced Legal Studies, 94 (2013), 20-24.

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