Dramatic monologues: The grammaticalization of speaking roles in courtroom opening statements

Krisda Chaemsaithong


This investigation examines different speaking roles that lawyers may shift into, and depart from, in the monologic genre of the opening statement in three American trials, incorporating Goffman’s concept of Footing (1981) into an analysis of three high-profile trials. The findings reveal that lawyers take on three distinct discursive roles: The storyteller, the interlocutor, and the animator. In addition, indexical resources commonly associated with each role are explored which serve to contextualize such role shifts. In effect, the lawyers can subtly make the discourse argumentative and suggestive of inferences. Such discursive practices appear to stand in direct contradiction to the purpose of the opening statement.

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