Triangulating Public Meaning: Corpus Linguistics, Immersion, and the Constitutional Record
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
This Essay contributes to the development of an originalist methodology by making the case for an approach that employs three distinct methods, each of which serves as a basis for confirming or questioning the results reached by the other two. This approach will be called the Method of Triangulation. The three component techniques are as follows:
(1) The Method of Corpus Linguistics: The method of corpus linguistics employs large-scale data sets (corpora) that provide evidence of linguistic practice.
(2) The Originalist Method of Immersion: The method of immersion requires researchers to immerse themselves in the linguistic and conceptual world of the authors and readers of the constitutional provision being studied.
(3) The Method of Studying the Constitutional Record: The method of studying the record framing, ratification, and implementation requires the researcher to examine the drafting process, including sources upon which the drafters relied, debates during the drafting and ratification process, and the early history of implementation of the constitutional provision.
These three methods each provide different inputs into the process of constitutional interpretation and construction. Because each method can be checked against the others, the combination of the three methods results in what can be called "triangulation."