A multi-dimensional analysis of legal American English: Real-life and cinematic representations compared

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Abstract

Numerous studies have been published on aspects of courtroom discourse over the years. These investigations have concentrated mostly on courtroom language either in terms of interaction, dynamics, and discourse or in terms of the linguistic traits marking it. There are, however, no studies which compare naturally-occurring instances of courtroom language with those occurring in movies either within an ESP perspective or using a multi-dimensional analysis; this is precisely what the present paper sets out to examine. In the paper, real trials are compared to movie trials by using data retrieved from the American Real-Trial Corpus, a purposely-built corpus, and from an updated version of the American Movie Corpus, containing the American Movie-Trial Corpus. The findings show very little linguistic and textual variability between the two corpora and thus not only confute the claim that the cinematic portrayal of the American legal system is far removed from reality, but also confirm that linguistic similarities between movie and naturally-occurring conversation are also present at a more specialized level. Hence, it can be argued that movies can be a rich source also for learning/teaching more specialized language features, such as those characterizing courtroom discourse.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)113-130
Numero di pagine18
RivistaInternational Journal of Language Studies
Volume2017, Volume 11
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2017

Keywords

  • American English
  • Legal English
  • Movie language
  • Multi-dimensional analysis

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