This book belongs to the rapidly growing field of historical pragmatics.
More specifically, it aims to lend definition to the area of historical
sociopragmatics. It seeks to enhance our understanding of the language of
the historical courtroom by documenting changes to the discursive roles of
the most active participant groups of the English courtroom (e.g. the
judges, lawyers, witnesses and defendants) in the period 1640–1760.
Although the primary focus is on questions and answers, this book also
analyses the use of eliciting and non-eliciting devices (e.g. requests and
commands) as a means of demonstrating similarities and differences over
time. Particular strengths of this work include the study of different
types of trial, making the results potentially more representative of the
courtroom in general, and the innovative discourse analytic approach, which
blends corpus methodology and sociopragmatic analysis, thereby enabling the
quantitative analysis of functional phenomena.