Chapter published in:Legal Pragmatics
Edited by Dennis Kurzon and Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 288] 2018
► pp. 157–179
The language of Egyptian interrogations
A study of suspects’ resistance to implicatures and presuppositions in prosecution questions
This chapter investigates an inquisitorial system that has thus far received little attention, despite the need for research on the culture of Egyptian interrogations. It focuses on suspects’ responses in interrogations, with special focus on ‘I do not know’ as a response strategy. In addition, it investigates the nature of prosecution questions that produces these responses. These signs of prosecutor power, and control and suspects’ resistance are investigated using a qualitative, discourse-pragmatic approach. The data are selected from a larger collection of Egyptian prosecution interrogations to focus on the strategies employed by professional and worker suspects. Data include interrogations with ex-president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons, Gamal, and Alaa, which took place in 2011 after the 25th January revolution as well as ordinary workers, traders and company managers. Previous research (e.g. Harris 1991), though in adversarial settings, has focused on contest, avoidance, refusal, and emphasis of status as strategies for resistance. ‘I do not know’ responses were found to have different structures: I do not know only, I do not know with explanation and emphatic responses. Each of these subcategories plays a different pragmatic role in the interrogations.
Published online: 26 April 2018
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