Linguistic Variation in Judge Greg Mathis' Courtroom. - The Western Journal of Black Studies

Linguistic Variation in Judge Greg Mathis' Courtroom.

By The Western Journal of Black Studies

  • Release Date - Published: 2009-03-22
  • Book Genre: Social Science
  • Author: The Western Journal of Black Studies
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Linguistic Variation in Judge Greg Mathis' Courtroom. The Western Journal of Black Studies read online review & book description:

Courtroom dramas have become a feature of American televison viewing. Unlike the days of Ironside and Perry Mason, when a limited number of programs existed, courtroom programs have expanded in numbers and can be seen across the country and at many hours of the day. (1) In addition, courtroom programs (e.g., Judge Joe Brown, Judge Hatchet, Judge Judy, Texas Justice) have given viewers insights into the legal system and have provided us with a bit of humor and seriousness when litigants confront each other or when judges rule on cases. For those who might want to investigate these programs as elements of popular culture, there are many directions from which investigators can proceed. For sociologists and anthropologists, issues concerning group behavior, for example, can be analyzed. For the psychologists, discussions about personality types, behaviors, and motives might arouse such research interests. For the linguists and for students interested in the study of language, courtroom programs can provide a rich source of data for linguistic analysis. Certainly, language is a central issue in the conduct of legal proceedings. Following conceptual tools advance in the study of language research, especially sociolinguistics, we may consider court trials as speech situations. According to Finegan (1994), a speech situation can be defined "as the coming together of various significant situational factors such as purpose, topic and social relations" (p. 333). In viewing courtroom dramas, viewers and those in the courtroom can soon determine the purpose for which adjudicators come to court, the issue being discussed and the relationship between litigants and the judge. Of course, language is a key component of any speech situation, and its inclusion here should not be surprising to the reader. Furthermore, the aforementioned variables (e.g., purpose, topic, social relations) influence the type of language used by litigants and by judges. In short, the topic of variation in language is an issue that allows for inquiry about courtroom proceedings, and analysts have a reasonable place to begin such an inquiry.

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