Critical discourse analysis as an analytic tool in considering selected, prominent features of TRC testimonies

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This paper considers a number of salient, characterising features of the verbal mediation process that took place in the TRC hearings on gross human rights violations. This is done with reference to the methodology developed in Discourse Sociolinguistics. It considers how various participants represent a particular event, each taking the perspective from which they experienced it. It notes the differences in verbal choice, and in textual and information structure of (i.a.) a journalist who witnessed this particular instance of public police excess, of a woman involved because her home was at the scene of the confrontation between police and youngsters, of one of the commanding police officers who had been subpoenaed and thus was not a voluntary witness at the hearing, of a doctor who treated patients after the event, of a school teacher who could articulate the particular kind of protest youngsters engaged in at the time, and so on. It also highlights a particular practice of reformulating which appears to be typical of discourses that mediate past atrocities with a view to founding new and improved democratic practices.


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