Volume 28, Issue 4
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238



As Chinese legal system follows a statutory tradition, the writing of Chinese judicial opinions is normally considered as an invariant sequential process of stating the law, presenting the fact, and finally providing the conclusion. The official ideology is further reinforced by the fact that Chinese judges need to follow various authoritative writing guidelines and templates prescribed by the official bodies of legal profession. This paper examines to what extent this ideology is a trustworthy description, and to what extent it is only an imagined myth related to the rhetorical practices of Chinese legal profession. Theoretical constructs employed in the study are genre, text type, and rhetorical modes, and analytical data include exemplar judicial opinions, intertextual legislative documents, and insiders’ accounts. According to the research findings, while the official ideology remains a strong shaping force in the composing of Chinese judicial opinions, Chinese judges do take compelling moves to add dialogic elements to the traditionally monologue-dominated discursive sphere of legal writing.

Available under the CC BY-NC 4.0 license.

Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...



  1. Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y.
    2004Evidentiality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Archer, Dawn
    2011 “Cross-examining Lawyers, Facework and the Adversarial Courtroom.” Journal of Pragmatics43 (13): 3216–3230. 10.1016/j.pragma.2011.06.007
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2011.06.007 [Google Scholar]
  3. Bakhtin, Mikhail
    1975/1981The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Austin: University of Texas Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Bhatia, Vijay K.
    1993Aanalysing Genre: Language Use in Professional Settings. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. 1997 “Genre Analysis Today.” Revue belge de philologie et d’histoire75 (3): 629–652. 10.3406/rbph.1997.4186
    https://doi.org/10.3406/rbph.1997.4186 [Google Scholar]
  6. 2008 “Creativity and Accessibility in Written Professional Discourse.” World Englishes27 (3/4): 319–326. 10.1111/j.1467‑971X.2008.00570.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-971X.2008.00570.x [Google Scholar]
  7. Blitvich, Pilar
    2010 “A Genre Approach to the Study of Im-politeness.” International Review of Pragmatics2 (1): 46–94. 10.1163/187731010X491747
    https://doi.org/10.1163/187731010X491747 [Google Scholar]
  8. Cheng, Le , King Kui Sin , and Ying-Long Zheng
    2008 “Contrastive Analysis of Chinese and American Court Judgments.” Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis across Disciplines2 (1): 49–58.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Conley, John M. , and William M. O’Barr
    1990Rules versus Relationships: The Ethnography of Legal Discourse. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Duke, Nell K. , Samantha Caughlan , Mary Juzwik , and Nicole Martin
    2012Reading and Writing Genre with Purpose in K-8 Classrooms. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Goffman, Erving
    1959The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Hafner, Chris A.
    2013 “The Discursive Construction of Professional Expertise: Appeals to Authority in Barrister’s Opinions.” English for Specific Purposes32 (3): 131–143. 10.1016/j.esp.2013.01.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2013.01.003 [Google Scholar]
  13. Han, Zhengrui
    2011 “The Discursive Construction of Civil Judgments in Mainland China.” Discourse & Society22 (6): 743–765. 10.1177/0957926511419924
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926511419924 [Google Scholar]
  14. 2012Legal Communication of Chinese Judiciary: A Discourse-based View. Bern: Peter Lang. 10.3726/978‑3‑0351‑0452‑3
    https://doi.org/10.3726/978-3-0351-0452-3 [Google Scholar]
  15. 2016 “The Mediatisation of Chinese Corporate Communication: A Linguistic Approach.” East Asian Pragmatics1 (1): 127–147. 10.1558/eap.v1i1.26969
    https://doi.org/10.1558/eap.v1i1.26969 [Google Scholar]
  16. Han, Zhengrui , and Li Xiaoyu
    2011 “Discourse of International Commercial Arbitration: The Case of Mainland China.” Journal of Pragmatics43 (5): 1380–1391. 10.1016/j.pragma.2010.10.022
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2010.10.022 [Google Scholar]
  17. Harris, Sandra
    1995 “Pragmatics and Power.” Journal of Pragmatics23 (2): 117–135. 10.1016/0378‑2166(94)00008‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(94)00008-3 [Google Scholar]
  18. Heffer, Chris
    2005The Language of Jury Trial: A Corpus-Aided Analysis of Legal-Lay Discourse. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 10.1057/9780230502888
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230502888 [Google Scholar]
  19. Hubbard, Frances K. , and Lauren Spencer
    2012Write to Inform. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Hyland, Ken
    2004Metadiscourse. London: Continuum.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Johnstone, Barbara
    2001 “Discourse Analysis and Narrative.” InThe Handbook of Discourse Analysis, ed. by D. Schiffrin , D. Tannen , and H. E. Hamilton , 635–649. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Kádár, Daniel
    2013Relational Rituals and Communication: Ritual Interaction in Groups. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 10.1057/9780230393059
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230393059 [Google Scholar]
  23. Kalscheur, Heidi A.
    2012 “About ‘Face’: Using Moral Rights to Increase Copyright Enforcement in China.” Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly39 (2): 513–538.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Kennedy, George A.
    1991Aristotle, On Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Labov, William
    2011 “Oral Narratives of Personal Experience.” InCambridge Encyclopedia of the Language Sciences, ed. by P. C. Hogan , 546–548. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Labov, William , and Joshua Waletzky
    1967 “Narrative Analysis.” InEssays on the Verbal and Visual Arts, ed. by J. Helm , 12–44. Seattle: U. of Washington Press. Reprinted inJournal of Narrative and Life History7: 3–38.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Leflar, Robert A.
    1961 “Some Observations Concerning Judicial Opinions.” Columbia Law Review61(5): 810–820. 10.2307/1120095
    https://doi.org/10.2307/1120095 [Google Scholar]
  28. Leung, Janny H. C.
    2012 “Judicial Discourse in Cantonese Courtrooms in Postcolonial Hong Kong: The Judge as a Godfather, Scholar, Educator and Scolding Parent.” The International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law19 (2): 239–261. 10.1558/ijsll.v19i2.239
    https://doi.org/10.1558/ijsll.v19i2.239 [Google Scholar]
  29. Liang, Huixing
    2011A General Introduction to Civil Law. Beijing: Law Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Maley, Yon
    1985 “Judicial Discourse: The Case of Legal Judgment.” InThe Cultivated Australian, ed. by J. E. Clark , 159–175. Hamburg: Buske.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Mao, Luming R.
    1993 “I Conclude Not: Toward a Pragmatic Account of Metadiscourse.” Rhetoric Review11 (2): 265–289. 10.1080/07350199309389006
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07350199309389006 [Google Scholar]
  32. Martin, J. R. , and David Rose
    2009Genre Relations: Mapping Cultures. London: Equinox.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Merry, Sally E.
    1990Getting Justice and Getting Even. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Paltridge, Brian
    2002 “ Genre, Text type, and the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) Classrooms.” InGenre in the Classroom: Multiple Perspective, ed. by Ann M. Jones , 73–90. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Purcell-Gates, Victoria , Nell K. Duke , and Joseph A. Martineau
    2007 “Learning to Read and Write Genre-specific Text: Roles of Authentic Experience and Explicit Teaching.” Reading Research Quarterly42 (1): 8–45. 10.1598/RRQ.42.1.1
    https://doi.org/10.1598/RRQ.42.1.1 [Google Scholar]
  36. Simons, Herbert W. , and Jean G. Jones
    2011Persuasion in Society (2nd edition). New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Stevenson, Drury
    2003 “To Whom is the Law Addressed.” Yale Law & Policy Review21 (1): 105–167.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Van Den Hoven, Paul
    2011 “The Unchangeable Judicial Formats.” Argumentation45: 499–511. 10.1007/s10503‑011‑9229‑4
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10503-011-9229-4 [Google Scholar]
  39. Van Leeuwen, Theo J.
    2008Discourse and Practice: New Tools for Critical Discourse Analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195323306.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195323306.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  40. Vázquez-Orta, Ignacio
    2013 “Authoritative Intervention in Legal Discourse: A Genre-based Study of Judgments and Arbitration Awards.” Revista Espanola de Linguistica Aplicada26: 91–103.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Wells, Michael
    1994 “French and American Judicial Opinions.” Yale Journal of International Law19: 81–133.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Zhang, Liping
    2007 “Evaluation in the Language of Law: Appraisal and Its Linguistic Realizations in Chinese Courtroom Discourse (以“评”说“法”: 法庭辩论中的评价资源与实现手段).” Foreign Language Teaching (外语教学) 6: 29–33.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): dialogue; genre analysis; judicial writing; legal ideology; monologue
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error