LING 2450 Final Notes
• Gratuitous Concurrence
Occur in interrogations where there’s a strong power imbalance between
questioner and witness/suspect,
saying yes when you don’t actually mean it – “free agreement”.
Often play a role in coercive false confession – questioners are in a more powerful
discursive position than answerers.
• Standard Language Ideology
“Handicap” notion – compares notspeaking English to a disability,
English seen as the neutral vehicle of communication,
“Standard Language” into which others should be readily translatable.
Beliefs about language shape testimony & its reception by others.
Ideas ppl have regarding what language is or what language is good for.
• Referential Transparency
Assumes that languages provide labels for preexisting concepts, and ignores the
indexing (connection between linguistic sign and context) function.
The verbatim theory, or the assumption that expressions in one language can be
unproblematically rendered into propositions and translated ‘verbatim’ into
• Equal Authenticity
Both language versions of a bilingual statute/regulation are official, original and
authoritative expressions of the law. Neither version has the status of
copy/translation – neither enjoys priority/paramount over the other.
Statutes exist in English & French, and bot versions are effective as law.
Autonomous & whole by itself.
• Shared Meaning Rule
If one rule is ambiguous and the other is not, then courts usually apply the shared 2
Assumption that both version of a legislative text must declare the same law.
• Legal Pluralism
Different jurisdiction adapts different rules
The construction of a record… of verbal performances in institutional settings.
e.g. court records (transcript), other reports prepared by institutional agents; also
written documents prepared by attorneys for clients – deposition, affidavit,
statement of claim, etc.
Made by institutional representatives for institutional purposes – shape by the
language ideology & practices of the institution.
• Indirect Speech Acts
Occur in situations of power asymmetry, but they are also perceived as more
polite than direct ones.
e.g. framing a request as a question rather than a command – implying that the
person is free to act otherwise.
Not always legally sufficient to evoke the right to remain silent – Miranda’s right.
• Performative Speech Acts
Occur in evoking Miranda’s Right but speech acts can be indirect or direct.
Language ideology affects their interpretation – Courts are deciding based on
assumptions about the nature of human communication
• Contamination by context
If some participants speak of illegal acts, this makes all participants look
complicit, even ones who didn’t speak.
Language as a clue to a person’s places of origin – characteristic of the
community in which they grew up.
A sign of socialization rather than citizenship.
Acquired in childhood, spoken with fellow vernacular speakers (family/friends),
low selfawareness (speaker doesn’t pay attention to how s/he speaks), likely
spoken “at home” and in informal settings. 3
• Deterritorialized (Nonvernacular speech)
Spoken with ppl who speak other varieties (strangers).
Depends on situation – speaker may carefully monitor his/her speech.
Likely spoken when away from home and in formalunfamiliar settings.
• Language Identification
Language as a clue to a person’s place of origin – vernacular use
• Author Identification
Probabilistic conclusion and have not yet had reliable results.
Can distinguish person X likely or not likely to be the author of disputed text.
Comparing suspicious text messages reveals systematic differences – suggesting
that they were not written by the same person. Differences are easier to prove than
Can be detected through the use of vernaculars
• Speech Acts
Locution (what’s being said), Illocution (what the speaker intends to accomplish
by saying it), & Perlocution (what effect has on the hearer).
• Conduit Model of Communication
Instructions as legal text – communication is believed to be successful as long as
correct text is spoken.
Speaker put thoughts into words, meaning is transported to the hearer.
Hearer is assumed to take place automatically.
• Communication as process
Meaning is negotiated between participants and context.
Uptake requires feedback and verification.
Instruction as communicative act – successful is listener shows understanding.
• Types of judges approaches
1) The Strict Adherent to the Law – [Rule Oriented]
conduit for inflexible law. Law has to be applied with no regard for the 4
judges own preferences. Law is external force beyond their control.
“I have no choice”.
2) The Lawmaker – [In between rule and relationship]
Law is what the judge says it is. Decisions may be fair but are extralegal.
Sense of fair & justice overrides respect for legal precedent.
Manipulate the rules but present decision as a result of these rules.
3) The Authoritative Decision Maker – [Rule Oriented]
Emphasizes personal responsibility for decision. Makes no reference to
body of law, judgment extends beyond the dispute to personal
problems/worth of the litigants.
Judge as the ruler.
4) The Mediator – [Relationship Oriented]
Seeks compromise to avoid future disputes between parties. Conveys subtle
but powerful sense of authority & control.
5) The Proceduralist – [Rule Oriented]
Place high priority on maintaining procedural regularity. Invest substantial
time in explaining procedure to litigants; give less attention to substantive
• Linguistic Paranoia
The presumption that when copresent persons use a language you cannot
understand, it can only be because whatever is being said is against you.
1. Legal Language
• How does the use of legal language relate to comprehensibility? 5
The use of technical terms, archaic language, and complex
sentences might hinder the comprehensibility of legal language to
lay person (no legal training).
Use of Plain English and avoid technical terms unless defined,
Give jury instructions before and after testimony,
Avoid monotone reading – use written and oral instructions (use
visual aids/diagrams if necessary),
Allow active participation of jurors in communication.
2. Courtroom Talk/Police Interrogations/Interviews
• How are lay participants disadvantaged in courtroom
Powerless language – for women and witnesses that that are not in
the position of authority. Seen as less truthful, less