Linguistics and Law: Forensic Letters

The Multi-Genre Analysis of Barrister’s Opinion

The article of Hafner (2010) is dedicated to a narrow and specific issue in applied linguistics – the investigation of the genre of barrister’s opinion. The author claims that the present genre is seriously under-researched, but it still represents a very interesting and informative case for applied linguists in terms of constructing the discursive reality and sharing the common institutional values and beliefs, which is the shared knowledge in any professional field, using linguistic appliances. By adopting a multi-perspective approach to investigating that genre, Hafner (2010) compares and contrasts it to some other more researched mainstream legal genres.

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The analysis of a series of barristers’ writing and oral professional opinions in Hong Kong is done to prove the author’s thesis that the barrister’s opinion is a separate, autonomous genre that represents a socially situated literacy practice, hence it should be professionally investigated and taught to beginning lawyers as a supplement in their process of learning to construct the legal syllogism structures, and to render the generic elements of legal writing and drafting (Hafner, 2010).

The complex set of tools that the author uses to analyze the barrister’s opinion as a genre of an institutional discourse proves the point of the author, and it is possible to see the was socio-cognitive aspects of legal discourse are unveiled in the decomposition the researcher conducts at each stage of legal writing and drafting of that kind (Hafner, 2010). For example, the focus on the interpretation of the legal reality assisted using the particular lexicon and grammar usage is specific for this particular genre, and one can agree that there is much potential in investigating the specificity of structure, lexico-grammatical specificity, etc.

It is possible to find the practical value of research, as it is obvious that the research yields many results fruitful for applied linguistics research on a wider scope. However, I do not agree with so much importance posed on the barrister’s opinion as a separate genre of legal writings. I recognize only the specific structure, several elements, and some lexemes, finding no basic peculiarities to call it a separate genre reflecting the social reality.

  1. Applied linguistics may be interested in studying the barrister’s opinion as a genre, but does it have the right to exist in the framework of more generalized, theoretical linguistic concepts?
  2. Which further ways and tools can be suggested for studying the genre of barrister’s opinion in China?

Analysis of Forensic Letters Certifying Child Abuse for the Usage of Rhetoric

The present article of Schryer et al. (2009) is the investigation of forensics’ and medical letters that confirm or disregard child abuse in court; the authors try to show in which way these texts exist in the social context, and reconstruct the correlation of medical workers, social workers, criminal agents, and other representatives of institutional entities correlated with lawful proceedings regarding abuse. The purpose of the article in the broader sense is to investigate the realization of rhetoric in the forensic letters through evaluative lexemes and peculiarities of construction (Schryer et al., 2009). The focus of the study is the role that the study plays in identifying and preventing child abuse, as well as in the rendition of the social and political context of written and oral texts in medicine, law, and forensics.

The author’s argument is quite logical from the point of view of analyzing the number and nature of evaluative lexemes used in different contexts – to assure the fact of committed abuse, the expression of opinion, suspicion in the rightness of the conclusion, etc. The quantitative analysis of coded information is conducted, with further discussion of the percentage of certain lexemes met in texts certifying various intents of the examiners and analytics (Schryer et al., 2009). The degrees of comparison and modal verbs were also applied in the course of discourse analysis for the present study as valuable contributors to understanding the role of rhetoric in producing the final impact on the court decision.

Commenting on the value of the research and the author’s arguments, I agree that rhetoric lexemes possess a profound effect on the target audience. Thus, the examination of legal written and oral texts (especially dealing with child abuse, which is a highly subjective and delicate area) possesses a high research potential. I think that the Identification of these strategies and aware consideration thereof may evaluate forensic letters more objective and helpful, so it is vital to have an in-depth look into the linguistic peculiarities of forensic letters.

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  1. How can one identify the impact of emotions (suspicion, sympathy, pity for a child) on the writing outcomes?
  2. How can the usage of evaluative lexemes be effectively met to assess the conclusions more adequately and objectively?

References

Hafner, C. A. (2010). A multi-perspective genre analysis of the barrister’s opinion: Writing context, generic structure, and Textualization. Written Communication, 27(4), 410-441. Web.

Schryer, C. F., Bell, S., Mian, M., Spafford, M. M., & Lingard, L. (2011). Professional citation practices in child maltreatment forensic letters. Written Communication, 28(2), 147-171. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, March 16). Linguistics and Law: Forensic Letters. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/linguistics-and-law-forensic-letters/

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"Linguistics and Law: Forensic Letters." StudyCorgi, 16 Mar. 2021, studycorgi.com/linguistics-and-law-forensic-letters/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Linguistics and Law: Forensic Letters." March 16, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/linguistics-and-law-forensic-letters/.


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StudyCorgi. "Linguistics and Law: Forensic Letters." March 16, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/linguistics-and-law-forensic-letters/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Linguistics and Law: Forensic Letters." March 16, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/linguistics-and-law-forensic-letters/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Linguistics and Law: Forensic Letters'. 16 March.

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