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The paper explores the hypothesis that a large proportion of non-terminological word combinations in legislation is built around complex prepositions, which significantly contribute
to phraseological profiles of legislative genres. The paper analyses the distribution and functions of complex prepositions in multilingual EU law and national law, on a comparative (cross-systemic) and contrastive English-Polish basis, against the background of general language. The analysis is conducted in the corpus-based methodology with the corpora of EU legislation (JRC Acquis) – regulations and directives, national legislation of the UK (BoLC) and of Poland (PLC), and general corpora (BNC and NKJP). The findings confirm that complex prepositions are very frequent and hence cognitively salient in the genre of legislation: complex prepositions show increased distribution against general language, in particular in Polish. It is demonstrated that national legislation and EU legislation (translationese) are profiled by different sets of salient prepositions, which may adversely affect the readability of the latter due to interference. Functionally, it has been demonstrated that the phraseological profiles of legislative instruments are marked by complex prepositions used predominantly in referencing patterns (authority, conflict), conditionals, anchoring (framing) patterns, defining patterns and time deixis.