ERIC Number: ED254882
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1985-Feb
Reference Count: 0
Politeness in Courtroom Language.
Cashion, Joan L.
The research of W. O'Barr and B. K. Atkins found that the use of "women's language" features--the use of tag questions, interrogative intonation, sex-specific vocabulary, hedges and fillers, empty adjectives, and hypercorrect grammar; the inability to tell jokes; and the tendency to use fewer expletives than men--was associated more with power and status than with the sex variable. To test this finding, a study investigated the language used by participants in legal proceedings (judges, prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys, and plaintiffs). It was hypothesized that the language of judges, who hold the most power in a courtroom, would contain the least number of women's language features, specifically "politeness." Tape recordings from two California courtrooms were transcribed and coded. The results supported the O'Barr and Atkins finding, but not the hypothesis. It is suggested that judges, regardless of their sex, use a great deal of politeness to redress the many face-threatening acts that they must perform. The findings indicate that future research on sex differences in language usage should move from the documentation of sex differences toward an examination of underlying social and situational factors. (FL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Legal Language
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Western Speech Communication Association (Fresno, CA, February 16-19, 1985).