Is courtroom discourse an ‘oral’ or ‘literate’ register? The importance of sub-register
By applying Multi-Dimensional Analysis, this study has provided a thorough description of the lexico-grammatical characteristics of courtroom discourse to see to what extent it employs both linguistic features of oral registers and literate registers. In particular, this study focuses on language used in the four public sub-registers (opening statements, direct examinations, cross-examinations, closing arguments) of courtroom discourse and analyzes how oral/literate each sub-register is, instead of characterizing courtroom discourse as oral/literate overall. Detailed interpretation of results focuses on Dimension 1 (involved and interactive vs. informational production) and 2 (narrative vs. non-narrative discourse) as these two dimensions are identified as universal parameters of register variation (Biber, 2014). A corpus of high-profile courtroom trials was compiled for this study that includes the O. J. Simpson criminal trial, the Boston Marathon bombing trial, and the Oklahoma bombing trial.
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