Zaitseva M. Cognitive and Communicative Parameters of the English Courtroom Discourse in Diachrony (Late 19th – Early 21st centuries)

Українська версія

Thesis for the degree of Doctor of Science (DSc)

State registration number


Applicant for


  • 10.02.04 - Германські мови


Specialized Academic Board

Д 17.051.02

Zaporizhzhia National University


Based on the results a new strand of linguistic research and thus a new branch of linguistics – courtroom discursology – has been originated in Ukrainian Linguistics. It considers the courtroom discourse as a complex multifaceted system, consisting of a number of subdiscourses; each of them has its own specifics. The indicators of the evolution of cognitive and communicative parameters of US courtroom discourse are identified, the methodology of complex analysis is presented and tested; new features of the conceptual level are substantiated. The examination of courtroom discourse is carried out by its cognitive and communicative parameterisation, which means the establishment of parameters, determined by both extralingual factors and the discourse itself. From the perspective of the synergetic approach, the discourse is an object of dynamic nature, a complex open system, which is subject to constant development, characterised by incompleteness, eventfulness, caused by historical, social, cultural changes that transform the communicative situation. Discourse and communication are for the first time reasonably regarded as bifurcational notions, that is, strongly influenced and stressed by. Influence in this case is motivated and intentional, aiming to adjust the behavior of the interlocutors, to achieve a change in their attitudes and evaluations in accordance with the views of the speaker. To achieve the goals regarding certain psychological, pragmatic settings and value orientations the addressee chooses a model of speech behavior, adequate to the communicative situation. It has been proven that in fact predominantly prosecutorial discourse in court is persuasive, since the prosecutor needs to influence the judge and the jury in a way that not only convinces them of their desired understanding of the problem, but also makes them act accordingly. In addition, persuasiveness arises as a form of influence in which, by means of the arguments offered, the actor intends to convince his opponent that he is right, referring, inter alia, to his rights or state of superiority: the prosecution party represents the state. The moment of reliance on authority is virtually absent in suggestive discourse, as suggestiveness involves subtler influence. The discourse of the defense is predominantly suggestive. It has been found that suggestive influence is not covert, but artfully disguised and invisible to the sugerend. Judge’s discourse is predominantly coersive, as it is a special ritualised form of power, and the judge combines methods of observation, qualification, classification and punishment as a demonstration of power to find out the truth. The axiologems (including legal ones) and anti-axiologemes of US courtroom discourse are distinguished, and their evolution is characterised. For the first time a classification of discursive personalities of courtroom discourse is introduced. The elitist discursive personality is represented by dominant, inflictive and provocative discursive personalities. The egalitarian discursive personality is represented by submissive discursive personality that can be aversive and non-aversive. Regarding the linguistic context, it was found that it has undergone significant changes. The analysis made it possible to clearly distinguish the linguistic context of the prosecution discourse, the defence discourse and the judge’s discourse and to characterise the linguistic means inherent in the identified subdiscourses. The semantic space of discourse reflects, through linguistic means, the cognitive information received by the agents of the trial. The implementation of a particular communicative mode requires not only a specially organised form (inflective and provocative narrative and mentative), but also the means of its expression: cratologems, axiologems, emotives, mythologems, sociologems, conceptologems. The results of the dissertation can be used in academic work in standard courses, and in the development and implementation of new special courses on the analysis of legal discourse (“Legal Language and Legal Writing”, “Forensic Linguistics”); in educational and methodological work (in the preparation of textbooks, textbooks and teaching aids), in special courses in discursology, text linguistics, cognitive linguistics.


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