IBM’s ManyEyes [Slaw posts] has introduced a new visualization tool, Phrase Net, that graphically presents pairs of words in a text depending on the term that links them. Thus, if the linking term “a” is chosen, Phrase Net would find in the prior sentence “introduced | new” and “in | text”. The visualization comes with a menu of ready-made linkage terms, such as “and” “is” “‘s” etc. as well as a text box that lets you put in a linkage term of your choosing. (And for the sophisticates, there’s the ability to use regular expressions.)
I’ve uploaded the judgment of Rothstein J. in Ermineskin Indian Band and Nation v. Canada 2009 SCC 9 just to see what Phrase Net might make of a more or less typical legal judgment. Nothing leaps out as specially interesting, but then I’ve only played with the text for a few moments. This might be one useful tool in an analysis of judgment styles, perhaps. And it might help litigators discover judges’ favoured phrases and linkages in an exercise in rhetoric.
(I’ve also visualized the text with Word Tree, so if you feel like following a few of Rothstein’s thoughts this way, you can.)