Multi-level structure of meaning in a business law tutorial
This paper investigates the tutor’s discourse in a university classroom for a business law tutorial. It is argued that the discourse is structured on several levels. On a deeper level, linguistic models of values underpinning the legal system can be discerned. Sinclair and Coulthard’s classroom taxonomy was applied firstly to the discourse, followed by further investigation of the moves in the exchanges along the lines of Halliday’s interpersonal, ideational and metalanguage components. In addition, characteristics of legal language were explored. It was found that, in combination, these form the medium through which the linguistic models of the legal system are presented. It is suggested that these elements of the discourse play an important role in initiating the students into the subject’s discourse community. It is further suggested that students with less facility and flexibility in English may be positioned less advantageously to benefit from these subtle messages.