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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton March 24, 2020

Multimodal Discourse Analysis of Judges’ Footing Shifts in Criminal Courtroom

  • Jinshi Chen

    Jinshi Chen is Professor of English (forensic linguistics) at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. His research efforts have focused on forensic linguistics, discourse analysis, and ESP teaching.

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The paper, based on the concept of FOOTING, makes a multimodal discourse analysis of the relationship between the judge’s discourse and his footing shifts in a criminal courtroom. The results show that in the interaction, multimodal resources in judges’ discourse include conversational features (prolonging keywords, interrupting, repeating, taking turns, etc.), acoustic ones (ascending F0 for pitches and dB for intensity, transition tracks between consonants and formants of vowels, duration of some keywords in important sentences, etc.), and visual ones (facing other parties, facing the materials, etc.). The multimodal resources activate different judges’ footings, including ANIMATOR, ANIMATOR + AUTHOR and ANIMATOR + AUTHOR + PRINCIPAL, and identify the judge’s footing shifts in the courtroom. The results also demonstrate that the judge’s footing shifts perform the functions of trial organizing, information confirming, fact investigating, spokesperson of the collegial panel, law educating and so on in criminal trials.

1 This paper is funded by the National Social Science Foundation of China [Project No.: 18BYY073].

About the author

Jinshi Chen

Jinshi Chen is Professor of English (forensic linguistics) at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. His research efforts have focused on forensic linguistics, discourse analysis, and ESP teaching.


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Appendix: Transcription Conventions
stressed sounds
( )comments
::prolonged syllable; the more colons, the more elongation
(0.5)(2.6)pause duration (0.5 or 2.6 seconds)
(.)micro pause (shorter than 0.5 seconds)
ºwordºquieter and softer speech
><speeding up utterance
<>slowing down utterance
[ ]the start and end of overlapping speech
Boldspeech that is obviously louder than surrounding speech


The author wishes to thank Professor Chen Jianping and Professor Xiong Tao for hosting this special column. He would also like to acknowledge the contributions of anonymous reviewers for their insightful feedback on the drafts of this article and the editors of the Chinese Journal of Applied Linguistics for their diligent work.

Published Online: 2020-03-24
Published in Print: 2020-03-26

© 2020 FLTRP, Walter de Gruyter, Cultural and Education Section British Embassy

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