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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

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Volume 34, Issue 4


The embedding of reported speech in a rhetorical structure by prosecutors and defense lawyers in Dutch trials

Petra Sneijder
  • Corresponding author
  • Wageningen University, CTP, Strategic Communication, PO Box 8130, 6700 EW Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Published Online: 2014-06-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2014-0012


Closing arguments in Dutch trials are representative of the adversarial part of the Dutch criminal justice system. The prosecutor and the defense lawyer design these arguments to persuade the judges of their opposing versions of the criminal events. Both parties draw on written documents such as the police record and on the interrogations during trial to present their perspectives on the case. References to these prior statements often take the form of reported speech. Prosecutors and defense lawyers subtly frame and change these statements. In this article I draw on insights from conversation analysis and discursive psychology to explore the way direct quotations are used to present a point of view. Most importantly, I will demonstrate how direct quotations are framed and embedded in a three-step rhetorical structure by prosecutors and defense lawyers.

Keywords: reported speech; court; closing arguments; quotations; discourse

About the article

Petra Sneijder

Petra Sneijder conducted her PhD thesis “Discursive identities, food choice and eating practices” at the Communication Science Group of Wageningen University. From 2007 until 2010 she worked at the Language and Communication Department of VU University Amsterdam as a researcher, within the funded project “Intertextuality in judicial settings.” In 2011 she returned to Wageningen to study interaction between experts and consumers on food innovation, and its implications for the construction and improvement of a stakeholder dialogue on this theme. Address for correspondence: Communication, Technology and Philosophy, Wageningen University, PO Box 8130, 6700 EW Wageningen, The Netherlands 〈petra.sneijder@wur.nl〉.

Published Online: 2014-06-27

Published in Print: 2014-07-01

Citation Information: Text & Talk, Volume 34, Issue 4, Pages 467–490, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2014-0012.

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