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Investigating audience orientation in courtroom communication

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This study presents an empirical study of audience orientation, investigating lawyers’ overt interpersonal negotiation with jurors. Drawing upon a corpus of the closing arguments of five high-profile American trials, the quantitative and qualitative analysis identifies the traces and degree of the jury’s presence through pronominal choices, questions, directives, references to shared knowledge and asides. Such relational practice does not merely “oil the wheels” of courtroom communication but also constitutes a key way to the meaning-making process in this phase of the trial. The findings attest to the centrality of relational work in accomplishing transactional goals in institutional discourses.
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Keywords: aside; audience orientation; closing argument; courtroom communication; directives; heteroglossic; interaction; pronouns; questions; relational work; shared knowledge; ‘marketing’

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 31, 2018

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