Chapter published in:Legal Pragmatics
Edited by Dennis Kurzon and Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 288] 2018
► pp. 65–80
Implicatures in Early Modern English courtroom records
This paper studies the role of conversational implicatures in the 17th century courtroom discourse. My hypothesis is that the use of the literal vs. non-literal language runs along the distinction between the powerless interrogated (the defendant, the witnesses) and the powerful interrogators (the judge, the counsel). While the interrogated had to resort to literal language in order to observe one of the rules of the Miranda warning (“Anything you say can be used against you”), the interrogators often employed different kinds of non-literal language for rhetorical purposes. Thus, the implicatures derivable from their discourse were instances of irony and even figures of speech, like metonymy or metaphor, which is illustrated by excerpts from three Early Modern English courtroom records. The trials of two representatives of the English nobility, The Trial of Titus Oates and The Trial of Lady Alice Lisle (both dated 1685) are contrasted with a unique case of the trial of a monarch, The Trial of King Charles (1649). The analysis reveals that while my hypothesis is corroborated by the data from the former trials, in the trial of a monarch some additional socio-historical variables have to be considered.
Published online: 26 April 2018
Gardiner, Juliet and Neil Wenborn
Grice, Herbert P.
Leo, R. A. and Thomas, G. C.