Individual events within courtroom discourse, such as lawyer-witness interactions have been studied extensively, particularly within a framework of powerful vs. powerless language (Adelsward, 1987; Archer, 2006; Bogoch, 2000; Eades, 2010; Fuller, 1993; Gnisci & Bakeman, 2007; Hobbs, 2007; Keating, 2009; Penman, 1990; Philips, 1984; Roberts, 1990). However, this thesis will show that courtroom discourse is sufficiently unique to warrant a distinct framework. It will also explore the explanatory power of a Courtroom Discourse Verbal Performance framework influenced by Verbal Art as Performance (Bauman, 1977). In particular this work will create a framework (Courtroom Discourse Verbal Performance) that explains the sociolinguistic situation of the entire courtroom trial instead of simply one small part (i.e. questioning a witness, entering a plea, etc.). This framework allows for the inclusion of the whole courtroom discourse event into a single unifying idea of courtroom discourse as performance. The peculiar sociolinguistic interactions of various people within courtroom discourse are explained as restrictions on the interactions of roles within the performance. Courtroom discourse data gathered from the Provo Fourth District Court is presented and analyzed as supporting evidence.
College and Department
Humanities; Linguistics and English Language
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Wood, Seth William, "Courtroom Discourse as Verbal Performance: Describing the Unique Sociolinguistic Situation of the American Trial Courtroom" (2012). Theses and Dissertations. 3116.
courtroom discourse, verbal performance