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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

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Volume 33, Issue 6


Reported writing in court: putting evidence “on record”

Fleur van der Houwen
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  • Department of Language and Communication, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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Published Online: 2013-11-07 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2013-0032


This paper examines how “reported writing” is sequentially embedded in Dutch criminal trials. In the Dutch criminal court, because of its inquisitorial nature, judges have an active role. They interview the suspect during the hearing and while doing so they frequently read from the case file. The case file consists of various documents that have been drawn up in the preliminary investigations, such as police records of suspect and witness statements. The statements are not read out loud in their entirety, but fragments are selected and woven into the courtroom discourse. The case file plays an important role because, according to the immediacy principle, the judge's verdict must be based on the information and documents that have been dealt with during the trial. In the context of examining the evidence in the courtroom, this paper illustrates how judges embed fragments from a document that they choose to read out loud, in order to establish the facts. Furthermore, this paper shows how reported writing allows the judge to assign turns to and animate “written voices,” and make those words a part of the courtroom interaction and hence the reconstruction of what happened.

Keywords: reported speech; reported writing; conversation analysis; court; judges; intertextuality

About the article

Fleur van der Houwen

Fleur van der Houwen completed her PhD in Linguistics at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Language and Communication at the VU University of Amsterdam where she does research in the area of institutional interaction, specifically in judicial contexts. She also serves as a linguistic expert in criminal cases. Address for correspondence: Department of Language and Communication, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands 〈 〉.

Published Online: 2013-11-07

Published in Print: 2013-11-25

Citation Information: Text & Talk, Volume 33, Issue 6, Pages 747–769, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2013-0032.

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Citing Articles

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Sigurd D’hondt and Fleur van der Houwen
Language & Communication, 2014, Volume 36, Page 1
Fleur van der Houwen and Petra Sneijder
Language & Communication, 2014, Volume 36, Page 37

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