Volume 24, Issue 4
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238


This investigation examines different speaking roles that lawyers may shift into, and depart from, in the monologic genre of the opening statement in three American trials, incorporating Goffman’s concept of Footing (1981) into an analysis of three high-profile trials. The findings reveal that lawyers take on three distinct discursive roles: The storyteller, the interlocutor, and the animator. In addition, indexical resources commonly associated with each role are explored which serve to contextualize such role shifts. In effect, the lawyers can subtly make the discourse argumentative and suggestive of inferences. Such discursive practices appear to stand in direct contradiction to the purpose of the opening statement.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Bamford, Julia
    (2000) Question and answer sequencing in academic lectures. In M. Coulthard , J. Cotterill , and F. Rock (eds.), Dialogue Analysis VII: Working with Dialogue. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, pp.159-169.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Berg-Seligson, Susan
    (2009) Coerced Confessions: The Discourse of Bilingual Police Interrogations. New York: Mouton de Gruyter. doi: 10.1515/9783110213492
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110213492 [Google Scholar]
  3. Berman, Ruth
    (2004) Introduction: Developing discourse stance in different text types and languages. Journal of Pragmatics37: 105-124. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2004.08.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2004.08.003 [Google Scholar]
  4. Chaemsaithong, Krisda
    (2012a) Performing self on the witness stand: Stance and relational work in expert witness testimony. Discourse & Society23: 465-486. doi: 10.1177/0957926512441111
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926512441111 [Google Scholar]
  5. (2012b) Beyond questions and answers: Strategic use of multiple identities in the historical courtroom. In I. Hegedüs , and A. Fodor (eds.), English Historical Linguistics 2010. Amsterdam: John Benmamins Publishing Company, pp.349-368. doi: 10.1075/cilt.325.16cha
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.325.16cha [Google Scholar]
  6. Cotterill, Janet
    (2001) Domestic discourse, rocky relationships: Semantic prosodies in representations of marital violence in the O.J. Simpson trial. Discourse & Society12: 291-312. doi: 10.1177/0957926501012003002
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926501012003002 [Google Scholar]
  7. (2003) Language and Power in Court: A Linguistic Analysis of the O.J. Simpson Trial. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Duszak, Anna
    (ed.) (2002) Us and Others: Social Identities across Languages, Discourses and Cultures. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. doi: 10.1075/pbns.98
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.98 [Google Scholar]
  9. Englebretson, Robert
    (ed.) (2007) Stancetaking in Discourse. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. doi: 10.1075/pbns.164
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.164 [Google Scholar]
  10. Fuller, Janet
    (1993) Hearing between the lines: Style switching in a courtroom setting. Pragmatics3: 29-43.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Goffman, Erving
    (1981) Footing. In E. Goffman (ed.), Forms of Talk. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp.124-159.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Gray, Bethany , and Douglas Biber
    (2012) Current conceptions of stance. In K. Hyland , and C. Sancho Guinda (eds.), Stance and Voice in Written Academic Genres. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.15-33.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Harris, Sandra
    (2001) Fragmented narratives and multiple tellers: Witness and defendant accounts in trials. Discourse Studies3: 53-74. doi: 10.1177/1461445601003001003
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1461445601003001003 [Google Scholar]
  14. Hobbs, Pamela
    (2003) “Is that what we’re here about?”: A lawyer’s use of impression management in a closing argument at trial. Discourse & Society14: 273-290.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. (2008) “It’s not what you say but how you say it”: The role of personality and identity in trial success. Critical Discourse Studies5: 231-248. doi: 10.1080/17405900802131744
    https://doi.org/10.1080/17405900802131744 [Google Scholar]
  16. Hunston, Susan , and Geoffrey Thompson
    (eds.) (2000) Evaluation in Text: Authorial Stance and the Construction of Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Hyland, Ken
    (2001) Authority and invisibility: Authorial identity in academic writing. Journal of Pragmatics34: 1191-1121.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. (2005) Stance and engagement: A model of interaction in academic discourse. Discourse Studies7: 173-192. doi: 10.1177/1461445605050365
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1461445605050365 [Google Scholar]
  19. (2008) Disciplinary voices: Interactions in research writing. English Text Construction1: 5-22. doi: 10.1075/etc.1.1.03hyl
    https://doi.org/10.1075/etc.1.1.03hyl [Google Scholar]
  20. Kärkkäinen, Elise
    (2006) Stance taking in conversation: From subjectivity to intersubjectivity. Text & Talk26: 669-731. doi: 10.1515/TEXT.2006.029
    https://doi.org/10.1515/TEXT.2006.029 [Google Scholar]
  21. Kitagawa, Chisato , and Adrienne Lehrer
    (1990) Impersonal uses of personal pronouns. Journal of Pragmatics14: 739-759. doi: 10.1016/0378‑2166(90)90004‑W
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(90)90004-W [Google Scholar]
  22. Levinson, Stephen
    (1988) Putting Linguistics on a proper footing: Explorations in Goffman’s concepts of participation. In P. Drew , and A. Wootton (eds.), Erving Goffman. Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press, pp.161-227.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Lind, Allen , and Gina Ke
    (1985) Opening and closing statements. In S. Kassin , and L. Wrightsman (eds.), The Psychology of Evidence and Trial Procedure. London: Sage, 229-253.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Mao, LuMing
    (1996) Chinese first person pronoun and social implicature. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication7: 106-128.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Matoesian, Gregory
    (1999) The grammaticalization of participant roles in the constitution of expert identity. Language in Society28: 491-521. doi: 10.1017/S0047404599004017
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404599004017 [Google Scholar]
  26. (2001) Law and the Language of Identity: Discourse in the William Kennedy Smith Rape Trial. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Mauranen, Anna
    (2003) “But here’s a flawed argument”: Socialisation into and through metadiscourse. In P. Leistyna , and C.F. Meyer (eds.), Corpus Analysis: Language Structure and Language Use. Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp.19-34.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Meyers, Miriam
    (1990) Current generic pronoun usage. American Speech65: 228-237. doi: 10.2307/455911
    https://doi.org/10.2307/455911 [Google Scholar]
  29. Pascual, Esther
    (2002) Imaginary Trialogues: Conceptual Blending and Fictive Interaction in Criminal Courts. Utrecht: LOT.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. (2006) Questions in legal monologues: Fictive interaction as argumentative strategy in a murder trial. Text and Talk26: 383-402. doi: 10.1515/TEXT.2006.014a
    https://doi.org/10.1515/TEXT.2006.014a [Google Scholar]
  31. Pennington, Nancy , and Reid Hastie
    (1991) A cognitive theory of juror decision making: The story model. Cordoza Law Review13: 519-557.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Rosulek, Laura
    (2010a) Legitimation and the heteroglossic nature of closing arguments. In D. Schiffrin , A. de Fina , and A. Nylund (eds.), Telling Stories: Language, Narrative, and Social Life. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, pp.181-193.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. (2010b) Prosecution and defense closing speeches: The creation of contrastive closing arguments. In M. Coulthard , and A. Johnson (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Forensic Linguistics. New York: Routledge, pp.218-230.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Siewierska, Anna
    (2004) Person. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511812729
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511812729 [Google Scholar]
  35. Snedaker, Kathryn
    (1991) Storytelling in opening statements: Framing the argumentation of the trial. In D. Papke (ed.), Narrative and the Legal Discourse. Liverpool: Deborah Charles Publications, pp.132-157.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Stygall, Gail
    (1994) Trial Language: Differential Discourse Processing and Discursive Formation. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Company. doi: 10.1075/pbns.26
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.26 [Google Scholar]
  37. Spiecker, Shelley , and Debra Worthington
    (2003) The influence of opening statement/closing argument organizational strategy on juror verdict and damage awards. Law and Human Behavior27: 437-456. doi: 10.1023/A:1024041201605
    https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1024041201605 [Google Scholar]
  38. Tannen, Deborah
    (2007) Talking voices: Repetition, Dialogue and Imagery in Conversational Discourse. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511618987
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511618987 [Google Scholar]
  39. Thompson, Geoff , and Puleng Thetela
    (1995) The sound of one hand clapping: The management of interaction in written discourse. Text15: 103-207.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. van Leeuwen, Theo
    (2007) Legitimation in discourse and communication. Discourse & Communication1: 91-112. doi: 10.1177/1750481307071986
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1750481307071986 [Google Scholar]
  41. Wales, Katie
    (1996) Personal Pronouns in Present-day English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. White, P.R.R
    (2003) Beyond modality and hedging: A dialogic view of the language of intersubjective stance. Text23: 259-284.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Wierzbicka, Anna
    (1974) The semantics of direct and indirect discourse. Papers in Linguistics7: 267-307. doi: 10.1080/08351817409370375
    https://doi.org/10.1080/08351817409370375 [Google Scholar]
  44. Wortham, Stanton
    (1994) Acting out Participant Examples in the Classroom. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. doi: 10.1075/pbns.30
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.30 [Google Scholar]
  45. (1996) Mapping participant deictics: A technique for discovering speakers’ footing. Journal of Pragmatics25: 331-248. doi: 10.1016/0378‑2166(94)00100‑6
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(94)00100-6 [Google Scholar]
  46. Zupnik, Yael-Janette
    (1994) A pragmatic analysis of the use of person deixis in political discourse. Journal of Pragmatics21: 339-384. doi: 10.1016/0378‑2166(94)90010‑8
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(94)90010-8 [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Courtroom discourse; Footing; Opening statement; Speaking roles
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