AJL22087 Forensic Linguistics: English language and law

Faculty of Arts
Autumn 2020
Extent and Intensity
0/2/0. 6 credit(s). Type of Completion: zk (examination).
Taught online.
doc. Mgr. Jan Chovanec, Ph.D. (lecturer)
Guaranteed by
doc. Mgr. Jan Chovanec, Ph.D.
Department of English and American Studies - Faculty of Arts
Contact Person: Tomáš Hanzálek
Supplier department: Department of English and American Studies - Faculty of Arts
Thu 8:00–9:40 G32
The course is only for students in the second cycle (MA studies).
Course Enrolment Limitations
The course is only offered to the students of the study fields the course is directly associated with.

The capacity limit for the course is 20 student(s).
Current registration and enrolment status: enrolled: 19/20, only registered: 0/20
fields of study / plans the course is directly associated with
there are 18 fields of study the course is directly associated with, display
Course objectives
The course provides an overview of linguistic approaches to the study of law and language. It combines a theoretical discussion of selected issues with practical analysis of texts. Written texts will be analysed for their stylistic features, spoken texts will point out the interaction between discourse participants. The course will report on the findings of the newly developing discipline of forensic linguistics. At the end of the course, students will be able to understand the role of the emerging discipline of forensic linguistics as well as understand the specificities of various genres of legal English.
Learning outcomes
After passing the course, the students will be able to:
- understand the specifics of various genres of legal English;
- analyse courtroom interaction from the point of view of pragmatics;
- navigate the syntactic complexities of legalese in selected written forms of legal discourses (legislation, contracts).
  • 1. Legal genres, the nature of legal language 2. Language of English written legal documents 3. Analysis of selected legal documents (legislative texts, contracts) 4. Methodology of linguistic analysis of language in legal contexts - discourse analysis, conversation analysis, pragmatics 5. Dynamism of courtroom interaction as a type of institutional discourse 6. Analysis of interaction on the basis of court transcripts - strategies of asking questions 7. Analysis of interaction on the basis of court transcripts - evasive and vague answers 8. Current issues in forensic linguistics: phonetics and phonology as linguistic evidence in the courtroom 9. Current issues of forensic linguistics: problems of authorship of written and spoken texts 10. Current issues in forensic linguistics: communication with members of disadvantaged groups in legal contexts 11. Current issues in forensic linguistics: police questioning and manipulation of the language of witnesses 12. The role of the Plain English Movement in changing English legal language.
    required literature
  • COULTHARD, Malcolm and Alison JOHNSON. An introduction to forensic linguistics : language in evidence. First published. London: Routledge, 2007. x, 237. ISBN 9780415320238. info
  • GIBBONS, John. Forensic linguistics : an introduction to language in the justice system. 1st pub. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2003. viii, 337. ISBN 9780631212478. info
  • OLSSON, John. Forensic linguistics : second edition. London: Continuum, 2008. viii, 256. ISBN 9780826493088. info
  • Language and the law. Edited by John Gibbons. First published. London: Longman, 1994. xiv, 476. ISBN 0582229766. info
    not specified
  • Tiersma, Peter M. (1999) Legal Language.University of Chicago Press, 328 pages, ISBN-10: 0226803023, ISBN-13: 978-0226803029
  • Olsson, John (2004) Forensic Linguistics: An Introduction to Language, Crime and the Law. Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd., 288 pages, ISBN-10: 0826461093, ISBN-13: 978-0826461094
  • Solan, Lawrence M. (2005) Speaking of Crime: The Language of Criminal Justice. University of Chicago Press, 264 pages, ISBN-10: 0226767922, ISBN-13: 978-0226767925
  • Heffer, Chris (2005) The Language of Jury Trial: A Corpus-Aided Analysis of Legal-Lay Discourse. Palgrave Macmillan, 272 pages, ISBN-10: 1403942471, ISBN-13: 978-1403942470,
  • Shuy, Roger W. (2006) Linguistics in the Courtroom: A Practical Guide. Oxford University Press Inc, USA, 160 pages, ISBN-10: 0195306643, ISBN-13: 978-0195306644
  • Náhradní obsah: Schane, Sanford (2006) Language and the Law. Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd, Hardback: ISBN: 0826488285 Pages: 224 Paperback: ISBN: 0826488293 Pages: 224
  • HEYDON, Georgina. The language of police interviewing : a critical analysis. 1st pub. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. xii, 229. ISBN 1403917264. info
  • COTTERILL, Janet. Language and power in court : a linguistic analysis of the O.J. Simpson trial. 1st pub. Hampshire: Palgrave, 2003. viii, 245. ISBN 0333969014. info
  • SHUY, Roger W. The language of confession, interrogation and deception. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 1998. viii, 205. ISBN 0761913459. info
Teaching methods
Seminar. Class discussions. Homework assignments. Prior reading for classes is necessary. Practical analysis of sample texts and language data.
Assessment methods
Seminars. The course consists partly of lectures on selected topics, detailed class discussion of issues studied at home, practical analysis of legal texts, and classroom presentations by students. Exam: in the form of a written essay on a topic of one's choice (subject to the the teacher's approval). The essay should be analytic, i.e. applying a selected method of linguistic analysis to legal texts (spoken/written) of one's choice. Evaluation: the meeting of all criteria for the course: active participation in seminars, classroom presentation, academic essay. The weight of all elements for the final mark will be announced during the course. Students are expected to meet all requirements (e.g. concerning attendance) specified by the study regulations.
Language of instruction
Further comments (probably available only in Czech)
Study Materials
The course is taught annually.
Information on course enrolment limitations: Předmět si nemohou zapsat studenti Bc. studia AJ
The course is also listed under the following terms Autumn 2019.
  • Enrolment Statistics (recent)
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