Kádár, Daniel Z. and Sun, Hao (2007) Power and (Im)Politeness in Traditional Chinese Criminal Investigations. In: 10th International Pragmatics Conference, 8 - 13 July 2007, Goteborg, Sweden.

Due to recent developments in critical discourse analysis (CDA) and forensic linguistics (FL), the theories regarding
utilisation of language in police interviews and courtroom interactions have been refined, cf. Cotterill (2003), Gibbons
(2003), and Thornborrow (2002). Researchers argue that even in the considerably authoritative police questioning
process and courtroom settings, language is a means that not only serves the maintenance but also the redistribution
(Bourdieu 1991) of power, i.e., possible resistance against authority. It is a generally accepted view that (im)politeness
is one of the most important tools in struggles for power in courtroom trials, cf. Lakoff (1989), or Kurzon (2001).
The aim of this study is to apply CDA and FL theories to the linguistics examination of traditional Chinese criminal
investigation(s) (TCCI), i.e., the process of interrogating suspects in imperial China in the period spanning the period
238 Panels & panel contributions
from the Ming dynasty (13681644) through the Qing dynasty (16441911).[1] In the course of analysing TCCI,
particular attention is devoted to the study of traditional Chinese (im)polite formulae and their role in criminal
investigations. TCCI and its institutional (im)politeness are of relevance to both CDA and FL, since their examination
can show how language and (im)politeness are utilized in attaining discourse goals in historical Chinese legal settings,
which differ enormously from the well-studied modern Western ones. Besides, TCCI is a hitherto regrettably
understudied topic. Notwithstanding the pivotal place occupied by traditional Chinese law amongst the legal traditions
of the world (Katz ed. 1986), traditional Chinese courtroom language has not been studied in any detail by historical
pragmaticians or forensic linguists. Furthermore, while traditional Chinese law has an extensive sinological literature,
such works only touch upon, if discuss at all, its language.

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