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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant


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Volume 36, Issue 4

Issues

A discursive analytical path of appellate court opinions: evaluation of ideological positioning in Bush v. Gore 2000

Ruina Chen
  • Department of Foreign Languages, Guizhou University, Guiyang, China
  • Department of Linguistics, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China
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/ Haitao Liu
Published Online: 2016-06-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2016-0018

Abstract

Appellate court opinions are written records based on the debates and discussions on hard cases among nine Justices in the US Supreme Court. This important genre type resists any easy paradigm of examination due to its extreme complexity in both language and law. In this paper, we propose an analytical path built upon White’s framework (2006) of “evaluative semantics and ideological positioning.” In particular, we attend to evaluative mechanisms employed by Supreme Court Justices to legitimize their decision and interpretation of complicated jurisprudences. The functionality of these mechanisms and their rhetorical potential are elaborated in the context of multiple opinions of Bush v. Gore 2000. The analysis in this paper complements Miller’s (2002) pioneering endeavor to analyze this case. In addition, it bears out Crompton’s (2004) prediction of the existence of Rhematic Progression (RP) in the discourse, and beyond which, its intensified form – Rhematic Progression with Derived Rhemes (RPDRs) – occurs in the dissenting opinion of Justice Stevens.

Keywords: discursive analysis; appellate court opinions; evaluation; Rhematic Progression with Derived Rhemes (RPDRs)

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About the article

Ruina Chen

Ruina Chen is Associate Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages at Guizhou University, and she is also a PhD candidate in the Department of Linguistics at Zhejiang University. Her research interests are discourse analysis, forensic linguistics and quantitative linguistics. Her most recent publications are in the Journal of Quantitative Linguistics and Digital Scholarship in the Humanities.

Haitao Liu

Haitao Liu is a Qiushi-distinguished Professor of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at Zhejiang University and Chair Professor of Linguistics at Ningbo Institute of Technology. His research interests include text quantitative analysis, quantitative linguistics and language complex networks. He is the author of over 150 scientific publications about language and linguistics, more than 40 publications indexed within the Web of Science.


Published Online: 2016-06-21

Published in Print: 2016-07-01


Citation Information: Text & Talk, Volume 36, Issue 4, Pages 391–415, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2016-0018.

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