Volume 24, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1566-5852
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9854
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In this paper, I analyse the representation of reported discourse in testimony from a 1795 conspiracy trial. I present a framework for analysing scribal intervention in discourse reporting and show that, although the transcription conventions of historical criminal proceedings offer the appearance of being objective representations, recorded testimony privileges idealised representations of speech events. In fact, a special status is given to those speech events to which those in the courtroom were not privy, that is, hearsay. When scribes use Direct Discourse to report this type of speech, they are simultaneously marking it as evidence available for judicial decision-making and distancing themselves from the judgment and interpretation process. I show that this is particularly problematic for interpreted testimony. This has implications for both our understanding of historical courtroom processes and the use of trial transcripts for historical sociolinguistic and pragmatic analysis.


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