Chapter published in:Corpus-based Research on Variation in English Legal Discourse
Edited by Teresa Fanego and Paula Rodríguez-Puente
[Studies in Corpus Linguistics 91] 2019
► pp. 261–285
Drinking and crime
Negotiating intoxication in courtroom discourse, 1720 to 1913
This chapter investigates how drunkenness is presented during criminal proceedings in courtroom speech by focusing on words meaning ‘drunk’. A wide range of drunken terms are used by all courtroom participants, which differ in force, euphemistic potential and style, and are thus employed to negotiate degrees of drunkenness in the interaction between legal professionals and lay participants. Fairly common amplification and rarer downtoning of these terms also contribute to their use in courtroom argumentation. The referents of drunkenness expressions are most often third persons, rarely the addressee, but fairly commonly also the speakers themselves. Victims and defendants often attribute drunkenness to themselves, apparently presenting it as a mitigating factor in the context of the crime. In contrast, the insistent questioning on that topic and the frequent usage of drunk terms by judges speaks for a more negative assessment of drunkenness by professionals.
Keywords: drunkenness, face, (im)politeness, intensification, mitigation, reference target
Published online: 06 February 2019
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Cited by 1 other publications
Claridge, Claudia, Ewa Jonsson & Merja Kytö
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