image of “I never said that”
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Police interviewers in England and Wales engage in the practice of investigative interviewing that is based on obtaining neutral, institutionally accepted account from suspects. This involves a process not only of eliciting information from suspects, but also of managing the interview by choosing topics for questioning, seeking clarification and additional details, and shaping the account to fulfil institutional requirements. Interviewers must therefore be sensitive to any unclear meanings from the suspect and avoid potential misunderstandings in order to avoid misrepresentation of account. This study uses authentic police interview data to exemplify the interactional process of meaning negotiation between police officers and suspects, examining how multiple constraints of this very restrictive communication context can affect which meanings are put on record and resolved, and which are ignored or left unresolved. The paper finishes by offering practical applicable insights about how interviewers can avoid misunderstandings in the interview room.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Ainsworth, Janet
    2008 “‘You have the right to remain silent…But only if you ask for it just so’: The role of linguistic ideology in American police interrogation law.” International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law (): –. 10.1558/ijsll.v15i1.1
    https://doi.org/10.1558/ijsll.v15i1.1 [Google Scholar]
  2. 2010 “Curtailing coercion in police interrogation: The failed promise of Miranda v. Arizona.” InThe Routledge Handbook of Forensic Linguistics, ed. byMalcolm Coulthard and Alison Johnson, –. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Allwood, Jens
    1995 “An activity based approach to pragmatics.” InGothenburg Papers of Theoretical Linguistics, –. Göteborg, Sweden: Göteborg University.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Ariel, Mira
    2016 “Revisiting the typology of pragmatic interpretations.” Intercultural Pragmatics(): –. 10.1515/ip‑2016‑0001
    https://doi.org/10.1515/ip-2016-0001 [Google Scholar]
  5. 2019 “Different prominences for different inferences.” Journal of Pragmatics: –. 10.1016/j.pragma.2019.07.021
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2019.07.021 [Google Scholar]
  6. Berk-Seligson, Susan
    2009Coerced confessions: The discourse of bilingual police interrogations. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110213492
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110213492 [Google Scholar]
  7. 2011 “Negotiation and communicative accommodation in bilingual police interrogations: A critical interactional sociolinguistic perspective.” International Journal of Sociology of Language: –. 10.1515/ijsl.2011.002
    https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl.2011.002 [Google Scholar]
  8. 2016 “Totality of circumstances and translating the Miranda warnings.” InDiscursive Constructions of Consent in the Legal Process, ed. bySusan Enrlich, Diana Eades and Janet Ainsworth, –. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199945351.003.0011
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199945351.003.0011 [Google Scholar]
  9. Bjørndahl, Johanne Stege, Riccardo Fusaroli, Svend Østergaard and Kristian Tylén
    2015 “Agreeing is not enough: The constructive role of miscommunication.” Interaction Studies(): –. 10.1075/is.16.3.07fus
    https://doi.org/10.1075/is.16.3.07fus [Google Scholar]
  10. Brennan, Susan E. and Michael F. Schober
    2001 “How listeners compensate for disfluencies in spontaneous speech.” Journal of Memory and Language(): –. 10.1006/jmla.2000.2753
    https://doi.org/10.1006/jmla.2000.2753 [Google Scholar]
  11. Cerovic, Marijana
    2010 Questions and Questioning in Montenegrin Police Interviews. PhD Thesis. Department of Sociology, University of York.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Clark, Herbert H. and Susan Brennan
    1991 “Grounding in communication.” InPerspectives on Socially Shared Cognition, ed. byLauren B. Resnick, John M. Levine and Stephanie D. Teasley, –. Washington: American Psychological Association. 10.1037/10096‑006
    https://doi.org/10.1037/10096-006 [Google Scholar]
  13. Clark, Herbert H.
    1996Using Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511620539
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511620539 [Google Scholar]
  14. Clarke, Charles and Rebecca J. Milne
    2001 “National evaluation of the PEACE investigative interviewing course.” Police Research Award Scheme. Report No. PRAS/149. London: UK Home Office.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Coulthard, Malcolm and Alison Johnson
    2007An Introduction to Forensic Linguistics: Language in Evidence. London/New York: Routledge. 10.4324/9780203969717
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203969717 [Google Scholar]
  16. Cullen, Hayley J., Lissane Adma and Celine van Golde
    2021 “Evidence-based policing in Australia: An examination of the appropriateness and transparency of lineup identification and investigative interviewing practices.” International Journal of Police Science & Management(): –. 10.1177/14613557211004618
    https://doi.org/10.1177/14613557211004618 [Google Scholar]
  17. Dixon, David
    2010 “Interrogating Myths: A comparative study of practices, research, and regulation.” UNSW LawResearch Paper No 2010–40. Available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1689358 [Accessed11 April 2024].
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Eades, Diana
    1994 “A case of communicative clash: Aboriginal English.” InLanguage and the Law, ed. byJohn Gibbons, –. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. 2008 “Language and disadvantage before the law.” InDimensions of Forensic Linguistics, ed. byJohn Gibbons and Maria Teresa Turell, –. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/aals.5.12ead
    https://doi.org/10.1075/aals.5.12ead [Google Scholar]
  20. Edwards, Derek
    2008 “Intentionality and mens rea in police interrogations: The production of actions as crimes.” Intercultural Pragmatics(): –. 10.1515/IP.2008.010
    https://doi.org/10.1515/IP.2008.010 [Google Scholar]
  21. Elder, Chi-Hé
    2019 “Negotiating what is said in the face of miscommunication.” InPhilosophical Insights into Pragmatics, ed. byPiotr Stalmaszczyk, –. Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110628937‑006
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110628937-006 [Google Scholar]
  22. 2021 “Microaggression or misunderstanding? Implicatures, inferences and accountability.” Journal of Pragmatics: –. 10.1016/j.pragma.2021.04.020
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2021.04.020 [Google Scholar]
  23. 2024Pragmatic Inference: Misunderstandings, Accountability, Deniability. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/9781009036672
    https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009036672 [Google Scholar]
  24. Elder, Chi-Hé and David Beaver
    2022 “‘We’re running out of fuel’: When does miscommunication go unrepaired?” Intercultural Pragmatics(): –. 10.1515/ip‑2022‑5001
    https://doi.org/10.1515/ip-2022-5001 [Google Scholar]
  25. Elder, Chi-Hé and Michael Haugh
    2018 “The interactional achievement of speaker meaning: Towards a formal account of conversational inference.” Intercultural Pragmatics(): –. 10.1515/ip‑2018‑0021
    https://doi.org/10.1515/ip-2018-0021 [Google Scholar]
  26. 2023 “Exposing and avoiding unwanted inferences in conversational interaction.” Journal of Pragmatics: –. 10.1016/j.pragma.2023.09.014
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2023.09.014 [Google Scholar]
  27. Fernández, Raquel
    2015 “Dialogue.” InThe Oxford Handbook of Computational Linguistics (2nd ed.), ed. byRuslan Mitkov, –. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Filipović, Luna
    2007 “Language as a witness: Insights from cognitive linguistics.” Speech, Language and the Law(): –. 10.1558/ijsll.v14i2.245
    https://doi.org/10.1558/ijsll.v14i2.245 [Google Scholar]
  29. 2019 “Evidence-gathering in police interviews: Communication problems and possible solutions.” Pragmatics and Society(): –. 10.1075/ps.00013.fil
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ps.00013.fil [Google Scholar]
  30. 2021aPolice Interviews: Communication Challenges and Solutions, ed. byLuna Filipović. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/bct.118
    https://doi.org/10.1075/bct.118 [Google Scholar]
  31. Filipović, L.
    2021b “Confession to make: Inadvertent confessions and admissions in United Kingdom and United States police contexts.” Frontiers in Psychology: . 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.769659
    https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.769659 [Google Scholar]
  32. Filipović, Luna
    2022a “Language and culture as sources of inequality in US police interrogations.” Applied Linguistics(): –. 10.1093/applin/amac022
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amac022 [Google Scholar]
  33. 2022b “The good, the bad and the ugly: Miscommunication in UK police interviews and US police interrogations.” Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology: –. 10.1007/s11896‑022‑09495‑w
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11896-022-09495-w [Google Scholar]
  34. 2022c “The tale of two countries: Police interpreting in the UK vs. in the US.” Interpreting:  – . 10.1075/intp.00080.fil
    https://doi.org/10.1075/intp.00080.fil [Google Scholar]
  35. Filipović, Luna and Alberto Hijazo-Gascón
    2018 “Interpreting meaning in police interviews: Applied language typology in a forensic linguistics context.” Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics: –.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Gibbons, John
    2003Forensic linguistics. London: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Grant, Tim, Jennifer Taylor, Gavin Oxburgh and Trond Myklebust
    2015 “Exploring types and functions of questions in police interviews.” InCommunication in Investigative and Legal Contexts, ed. byGavin Oxburgh, Trond Myklebust, Tim Grant and Rebecca Milne, –. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons. 10.1002/9781118769133.ch2
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118769133.ch2 [Google Scholar]
  38. Grice, H. Paul
    1957 “Meaning.” The Philosophical Review(): –. 10.2307/2182440
    https://doi.org/10.2307/2182440 [Google Scholar]
  39. Haugh, Michael
    2008 “The place of intention in the interactional achievement of implicature.” InIntention, Common Ground and the Egocentric Speaker-Hearer, ed. byIstvan Kecskes and Jacob L. Mey, –. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110211474.1.45
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110211474.1.45 [Google Scholar]
  40. Haworth, Kate
    2006 “The dynamics of power and resistance in police interview discourse.” Discourse & Society(): –. 10.1177/0957926506068430
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926506068430 [Google Scholar]
  41. Haworth, Kate, James Tompkinson, Emma Richardson, Felicity Deamer and Magnus Hamman
    2023 “‘For the Record’: Applying linguistics to improve evidential consistency in police investigative interview records.” Frontiers in Communication:. 10.3389/fcomm.2023.1178516
    https://doi.org/10.3389/fcomm.2023.1178516 [Google Scholar]
  42. Healey, Patrick
    2008 “Interactive misalignment: The role of repair in the development of group sub-languages.” InLanguage in Flux, ed. byRobin Cooper and Ruth Kempson, –. London: London Publications.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Heini, Annina
    2023 “‘Basically, I’m gonna ask you a load of questions’: Cautioning exchanges in police interviews with adolescent suspects.” Language and Law / Linguagem E Direito(). 10.21747/21833745/lanlaw/9_2a3
    https://doi.org/10.21747/21833745/lanlaw/9_2a3 [Google Scholar]
  44. Heydon, Georgina
    2005The Language of Police Interviewing: A Critical Analysis. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 10.1057/9780230502932
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230502932 [Google Scholar]
  45. 2007 When silence means acceptance: Understanding the right to silence as a linguistic phenomenon. Alternative Law Journal():–. 10.1177/1037969X0703200305
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1037969X0703200305 [Google Scholar]
  46. 2008 “The risk to testimonial integrity of moral judgements in police interviews.” Southern Review(): –.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. 2012 “Helping the police with their enquiries: Enhancing the investigative interview with linguistic research.” The Police Journal(): –. 10.1350/pojo.2012.85.2.581
    https://doi.org/10.1350/pojo.2012.85.2.581 [Google Scholar]
  48. Hijazo-Gascón, Alberto
    2019 “Translating accurately or sounding natural? The interpreters’ challenges due to semantic typology and the interpreting process.” Pragmatics and Society(): –. 10.1075/ps.00016.hij
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ps.00016.hij [Google Scholar]
  49. Jefferson, Gail
    2004 “Glossary of transcript symbols with an introduction.” InConversation Analysis: Studies from the First Generation, ed. byGene H. Lerner, –. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/pbns.125.02jef
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.125.02jef [Google Scholar]
  50. Johnson, Alison
    2008 “‘From where we’re sat…’: Negotiating narrative transformation through interaction in police interviews with suspects.” Text and Talk(): –. 10.1515/TEXT.2008.016
    https://doi.org/10.1515/TEXT.2008.016 [Google Scholar]
  51. Kecskes, Istvan
    2010 “The paradox of communication: Socio-cognitive approach to pragmatics.” Pragmatics and Society(): –. 10.1075/ps.1.1.04kec
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ps.1.1.04kec [Google Scholar]
  52. McTear, Michael
    2008 “Handling miscommunication: Why bother?” InRecent Trends in Discourse and Dialogue, ed. byLaila Dybkjær and Wolfgang Minker, –. Dordrecht: Springer. 10.1007/978‑1‑4020‑6821‑8_5
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6821-8_5 [Google Scholar]
  53. Milne, Rebecca and Ruth Bull
    1999Investigative Interviewing: Psychology and Practice. Chichester: Wiley.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Monteoliva-García, Eloisa
    2020 “Interpreting or other forms of language support? Experiences and decision-making among response and community police officers in Scotland.” Translation & Interpreting(): –. 10.12807/ti.112201.2020.a03
    https://doi.org/10.12807/ti.112201.2020.a03 [Google Scholar]
  55. Musolff, Andreas
    2019 “‘You keep telling us different things, what do we believe?’ Meta-communication and meta-representation in police interviews.” Pragmatics and Society(): –. 10.1075/ps.00014.mus
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ps.00014.mus [Google Scholar]
  56. Pavlenko, Aneta
    2008 “‘I’m not very about the law part’: Nonnative speakers of English and the Miranda warnings.” TESOL Quarterly(): –. 10.1002/j.1545‑7249.2008.tb00205.x
    https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1545-7249.2008.tb00205.x [Google Scholar]
  57. Pounds, Gabrina
    2019 “Rapport-building in suspects’ police interviews: The role of empathy and face.” Pragmatics and Society(): –. 10.1075/ps.00017.pou
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ps.00017.pou [Google Scholar]
  58. Robinson, Jeffrey D.
    2014 “What ‘what?’ tells us about how conversationalists manage intersubjectivity.” Research on Language and Social Interaction(): –. 10.1080/08351813.2014.900214
    https://doi.org/10.1080/08351813.2014.900214 [Google Scholar]
  59. Rock, Frances E.
    2007Communicating Rights: The Language of Arrest and Detention. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 10.1057/9780230286504
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230286504 [Google Scholar]
  60. Russell, Sonia
    2001 “‘Let me put it simply…’: The case for a standard translation of the police caution and its explanation.” Forensic Linguistics: –.
    [Google Scholar]
  61. Sacks, Harvey, Schegloff, Emanuel A. and Gail Jefferson
    1974 “A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation.” Language(): –. 10.1353/lan.1974.0010
    https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.1974.0010 [Google Scholar]
  62. Schegloff, Emanuel
    1992 “Repair after next turn: The last structurally provided defense of intersubjectivity in conversation.” American Journal of Sociology(): –. 10.1086/229903
    https://doi.org/10.1086/229903 [Google Scholar]
  63. Schegloff, Emanuel, Gail Jefferson & Harvey Sacks
    1977 “The preference for self-correction in the organization of repair in conversation.” Language: –. 10.1353/lan.1977.0041
    https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.1977.0041 [Google Scholar]
  64. Shuy, Roger W.
    2017Deceptive Ambiguity by Police and Prosecutors. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/oso/9780190669898.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780190669898.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  65. Stokoe, Elizabeth and Derek Edwards
    2008 “‘Did You Have Permission to Smash Your Neighbour’s Door?’ Silly Questions and their Answers in Police–Suspect Interrogations.” Discourse Studies(): –. 10.1177/1461445607085592
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1461445607085592 [Google Scholar]
  66. Terkourafi, Marina
    2014 “The importance of being indirect: A new nomenclature for indirect speech.” Belgian Journal of Linguistics: –. 10.1075/bjl.28.03ter
    https://doi.org/10.1075/bjl.28.03ter [Google Scholar]
  67. Tzanne, Angeliki
    2000Talking at Cross-Purposes: The Dynamics of Miscommunication. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing. 10.1075/pbns.62
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.62 [Google Scholar]
  68. Walsh, David and Rebecca Milne
    2008 “Keeping the PEACE? A study of investigative interviewing practices in the public sector.” Legal and Criminological Psychology: –. 10.1348/135532506X157179
    https://doi.org/10.1348/135532506X157179 [Google Scholar]
  69. Weizman, Elda
    1999 “Building true understanding via apparent miscommunication: A case study.” Journal of Pragmatics(): –. 10.1016/S0378‑2166(96)00057‑4
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(96)00057-4 [Google Scholar]
  70. Yoong, David
    2010 “Interactional norms in the Australian police interrogation room. Discourse & Society(): –. 10.1177/0957926510381223
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926510381223 [Google Scholar]
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