LINGUIST List 29.2888

Fri Jul 13 2018

Diss: Forensic Linguistics; Creole English, Jamaican: Clive Forrester: ''Modelling Time Reference in Judges’ Summations: a Study in Time Reference Management in a Creole Continuum Courtroom''

Editor for this issue: Sarah Robinson <srobinsonlinguistlist.org>


Date: 12-Jul-2018
From: Clive Forrester <clive.forresteruwaterloo.ca>
Subject: Modelling Time Reference in Judges’ Summations: a Study in Time Reference Management in a Creole Continuum Courtroom
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Institution: University of the West Indies at Mona
Program: Department of Language, Linguistics & Philosophy
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2012

Author: Clive Forrester

Dissertation Title: Modelling Time Reference in Judges’ Summations: a Study in Time Reference Management in a Creole Continuum Courtroom

Linguistic Field(s): Forensic Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Creole English, Jamaican (jam)

Dissertation Director:
Prof. Hubert Devonish
Prof. John Baugh

Dissertation Abstract:

When witnesses take the stand in court, they attempt, for the most part, to reduce the past experience of a crime to a story. Because of the discourse norms inside the courtroom, however, this story is usually co-created and mediated by a lawyer via examination in chief or cross-examination. What can potentially occur as a result of this is a series of competing narratives – different, and sometimes contradictory, versions of the same story. Judges must somehow find a way to consolidate all the competing narratives inside the courtroom before arriving at the verdict, or, in juried cases, instruct the jury on how to arrive at a final decision.


This dissertation examines the techniques the judge uses to consolidate one particular detail - time. Since the two main languages in the Jamaican courtroom, Jamaican Creole and English have markedly distinct ways of marking time both lexically and grammatically, the judge’s task is a complex one. The study develops a model of how judges manage time references presented to them in competing stories encoded in highly variable linguistic forms along the Creole to English continuum in Jamaica.


Page Updated: 13-Jul-2018