Historical Courtroom Discourse
  • ISSN 1566-5852
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9854
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In this paper I employ a diachronic model of analyzing speech acts to trace the development of sworn testimonies through the history of the Polish criminal trial. The research is based on the complete collection of medieval testimonies in Old Polish that have survived to the present day and on a selection of legal texts recorded in modern criminal trials. My preliminary assumption is that a proper analysis of institutional acts such as testimonies can only be achieved when their socio-historical context is taken into account. This is due to the fact that the very existence of legal speech acts depends on a set of constitutive rules that are socially and historically variable. The study corroborates my hypothesis and offers evidence in favor of the view that the changing legal context in which testimonies occur affects not only the ways in which they are realized over time but also their performative function.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): courtroom discourse; legal speech acts; medieval sworn testimonies; Old Polish
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