Sociolinguistics and the Legal Process

Author: Diana Eades

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Multilingual Matters
Number of pages:
245mm x 174mm

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Sociolinguistics and the Legal Process is an introduction to language, law and society for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students. Its central focus is the exploration of what sociolinguistic research can tell us about how language works and doesn't work in the legal process. Written for readers who may not have prior knowledge of sociolinguistics or the law, the book has an accessible style combined with discussion questions and exercises as well as topics for assignments, term papers, theses and dissertations. A wide range of legal contexts are investigated, including courtroom hearings, police interviews, lawyer interviews as well as small claims courts, mediation, youth justice conferencing and indigenous courts. The final chapter looks at how sociolinguists can contribute to the legal process: as expert witnesses, through legal education, and through investigating the role of language in the perpetuation of inequality in and through the legal process.

Not only does Diana Eades' textbook cross disciplinary and cultural borders, but also it bridges the gap between research and pedagogy. Bravo.

Bain Butler, University of Maryland, in Linguist List 21.3222

'Sociolinguistics and the Legal Process' is an ideal text for an introductory course in language and law. Eades's intelligently chosen topics give a full and fair flavor of the field's enormous range. The writing is perfect, crystal-clear without condescension or dumbing-down. Remarkably, Eades succeeds in presenting a theoretically sophisticated account of a sprawling field in a style that can be readily understood by an intelligent undergraduate.

John Conley, University of North Carolina School of Law, USA

This is a long-awaited book from one of the leading forensic linguists whose work has had a profound effect on several aspects of the Australian legal system. Diana Eades covers all aspects of interaction within the legal process from the first interview a suspect has with the police, through consultations with lawyers to the complexities of courtroom talk. There is also specific focus on the special problems of child witnesses and those who are not fluent in the language of the court. All readers will find new insights but for students 'Sociolinguistics and the Legal Process' will be invaluable.

Malcolm Coulthard, Professor of Forensic Linguistics, Aston University, UK.

Because of its textbook orientation, the book contains various exercises, class discussion sections, and assignments for further research interspersed throughout each chapter, all of which are thought-provoking and carefully integrated into the content of each chapter. This textbook is a worthwhile and informative introduction to the sociolinguistic dimension of the legal process.

Frank Nuessel, University of Louisville in Language Problems and Language Planning 35:1 2011

A highly informative book, Sociolinguistics and the Legal Process is a model textbook in so many ways.

Sociolinguistics and the legal process is an especially welcome contribution to the field of language and the law (a field also referred to as forensic linguistics), artfully situating the field within the broader framework of sociolinguistics. Diana Eades brings to this book a wealth of personal research experience in this field, together with an in-depth knowledge of its scholarly literature…Engagingly written, the book is intended to be primarily a textbook for upperdivision undergraduates and graduate students, but it is much more than that. Covering language and law from a multiplicity of theoretical and substantive vantage points, Eades succeeds in producing a textbook that not only explains the field in all of its many facets, but also is thorough and up-to-date in its review of the scholarly works on which it is built.

Susan Berk-Seligson, Vanderbilt University in Language in Society 41:1 (2012)

Diana Eades (University of New England, Australia) has been actively involved in the legal process for more than twenty years, doing sociolinguistic research, providing expert evidence and delivering training for judges, magistrates and lawyers. She has taught at undergraduate and graduate levels at the University of Hawai‘i and several colleges and universities in Australia. At various times she has been President, Vice-President and Secretary of the International Association of Forensic Linguists. In addition to many journal articles and book chapters, her publications include Courtroom Talk and Neocolonial Control (2008, Mouton de Gruyter) and the 1995 edited volume Language in Evidence: Issues Confronting Aboriginal and Multicultural Australia (UNSW Press). She is co-editor of The International Journal of Speech Language and the Law.


Chapter 1 Using sociolinguistics to study the legal process


Chapter 2 Researching courtroom talk

Chapter 3 Focus on trials

Chapter 4 Second language speakers and interpreters

Chapter 5 Vulnerable witnesses

Chapter 6 Courtroom talk and societal power relations


Chapter 7 Police interviews

Chapter 8 Police interviews with members of minority groups


Chapter 9 Lawyer-client interactions

Chapter 10 Informal and alternative legal processes


Chapter 11 What (else) can sociolinguistics do?

Postgraduate, Research / Professional, Undergraduate, Text
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