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Collocation, connotation and courtroom semantics: lawyers' control of witness testimony through lexical negotiation

Cotterill, Janet 2004. Collocation, connotation and courtroom semantics: lawyers' control of witness testimony through lexical negotiation. Applied Linguistics 25 (4) , pp. 513-537. 10.1093/applin/25.4.513

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Abstract

A great deal has been written about the ways in which lawyers' questioning strategies, particularly during cross-examination, may be considered coercive and intimidating for witnesses, even potentially contributing to the wrongful acquittal of guilty defendants. The primary focus of analytical attention in identifying such practices has been the use of closed and/or leading questions, which restrict the response options for the witness, either by prescribing a range of ‘acceptable’ responses, or by restricting the witness to a yes–no answer. In contrast, relatively little attention has been paid to lexical aspects of witness (cross-)examination and, in particular, the role of lexis in creating nuances of meaning for the jury. This article draws on a 5-million word corpus of rape/sexual assault and domestic violence trials held in the late 1990s in the UK, and applies a combination of corpus linguistic and discourse analytic approaches to study the lexicalizations and re-lexicalizations of the crime, its participants and its circumstances and the process of lexical negotiation which takes place between lawyers and witnesses.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
P Language and Literature > PE English
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0142-6001
Last Modified: 08 May 2019 02:42
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/3626

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