Analyzing interdiscursivity in legal genres
The case of Chinese lawyers’ written opinions
The traditional simplistic understanding of legal genre as homogeneous texts of legalese is recently confronted by researches focusing on the contextual aspects of legal communication, i.e. the production, circulation, and consumption of legal genres in diverse institutional contexts (Candlin and Maley 1997; D’hondt and Van Der Houwen 2014). It is, according to these researches, more reasonable to think of legal genres as a hybrid combining the operation of different heterogeneous discourses. This article takes the broad contextual perspective, draws on the theory of critical genre analysis (Bhatia 2016) and attempts to explore the discursive heterogeneity in one of the Chinese legal genres – the lawyers’ defense opinions. Both textual and interpretative analysis are conducted in order to identify specific discourses that underline Chinese lawyers’ preparation of defense opinions, and to look at how Chinese lawyers linguistically construct the different discourses to fulfill the ultimate purpose of justifying the defendant’s actions.
Keywords: critical genre analysis, interdiscursivity, discursive innovations, legal writing, lawyering practices, Chinese legal context
Published online: 20 November 2020
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