Language and disadvantage before the law

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This chapter draws on sociolinguistic research to examine some social groups whose experience of disadvantage in the legal process is at least partly due to differences in language use: children, intellectually disabled people, Deaf people, and second dialect speakers and other minority group members. The legal contexts include police interviews, courtroom hearings, lawyer-client interviews and alternative legal processes. The chapter argues that it is impossible to address language and disadvantage in the law – whether through research or law reform – without an understanding of the politics of disadvantage, and the rights of people whose difference from the dominant society plays a significant role in their participation in the legal process.


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