Volume 14, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1566-5852
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9854
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This paper explores to what extent and how defendants (re)initiated talk in the English courtroom during the period 1760–1860. Adopting both a qualitative and quantitative approach to the analysis of a sample of the Old Bailey Proceedings, I investigate defendants’ moves in terms of their illocutionary force, their addressees and whether there is evidence of change in frequency and format over the period under examination. The achievement of full defence by counsels in 1836 is expected to bring defendants’ behaviour closer to what it is like nowadays. In line with this hypothesis, the study shows a gradual decrease in defendants’ turn transitions, reporting moves and informing acts over the nineteenth century. However, the turn-allocation technique used to gain the turn as well as the increase of (re)initiating moves and questioning acts produced by defendants over the course of time disconfirms the hypothesis of a more active participation of counsels.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): conversation analysis; historical courtroom interaction
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