Actors and Actions in Prenups and Capitulaciones Matrimoniales: A Cross-Cultural Study
The investigation of a corpus of American prenuptial agreements and Spanish capitulaciones matrimoniales shows how the popularity of premarital contracts is spreading everywhere. The American and the Spanish documents, juridically diverse in many aspects, embedded in two different legal systems, belong to the genre of contracts and are classified as a type of negotiation/mediation. The lexical and semantic analysis focuses on the specialized terminology used to refer to the human actors and their actions within the documents. The aim is to discover whether and how legal, intercultural and sociological divergences emerge from the textual context. Participants play several roles in the various semantic-pragmatic units constituting the contract, being in turn considered as contracting parties, married couple, notary public, parents, esposos, padres, and otorgantes. Their actions are highlighted by a punctual and proper use of verbal constructions and speech acts, such as asserting, signing, stipulating, agreeing. The study demonstrates how actors and actions do not stand autonomously and separately: they perform and fulfil a specific pragmatic function in a precise legal and cultural context.
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